LONDON - HSBC Holdings PLC, Europe's largest bank by market value, said second-half profit rose 42% as it set aside less money for potential loan losses because of the recovery in Asia.The result included a 14% gain in net interest income over the second half of 1998 for the banking company's North American units, to $1.69 billion.

Overall net income rose to $2.7 billion, from $1.9 billion in the second half of 1998.

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