Banking giants Barclays and HSBC have both managed down costs and achieved better than expected results for the first half of 2009.

HSBC said it has cut costs by three per cent, Barclays also reported a saving of three per cent. HSBC Holdings, the parent company, said its total operating expenses were down by 17 per cent to $16,658 million. This is a cost efficiency ratio of 47.9 per cent, last year's ratio was 51.0 per cent.

Barclays announced an eight per cent rise in profits, driven by its successful investment banking division. Last year Barclays acquired the assets of failed US bank Lehman Brothers. Pre-tax profits at Barclays were £2.98 billion for the first six months of the year.

HSBC reported a pre-tax profit of $5bn. For the same period in 2008 HSBC reported profits of $10.2bn. The personal banking arm of HSBC reported a loss of $1.2bn. Commercial banking at HSBC reported a profit of $2.4bn, but this was a decline of 47 per cent compared to same period last year.

HSBC has extended its outsourcing contracts with Capgemini and cut its IT workforce by 500 in December 2008.

Earlier this year Barclays announced that its UK IT workforce would be cut by 700.