By Jonathan Davies

HSBC has reported a 10% rise in profits for the first half of 2015.

Europe's largest lender posted profits of $13.6 billion (£8.7bn) in the first six months of the year, compared with $12.3bn in the same period last year. It also beat expectations of $12.5bn.

Revenues were up 4% to $30.8bn during the period.

HSBC also announced the sale of its Brazil unit to Banco Bradesco for $5.2bn.

The sale is part of plans to cut costs, which also includes cutting 50,000 jobs around the world.

"The environment for banking remains challenging," said HSBC chairman Douglas Flint.

In a statement, HSBC said: "We are executing the actions that we announced at our investor update in June and our focus is on making significant progress during the remainder of the year."

The bank set aside $1.14bn to cover settlements of legal matters. In February, HSBC was accused of helping hundreds of customers to avoid paying UK tax by using its Swiss business.

HSBC also confirmed that a decision on its possible relocation would be made by the end of the year. Following a string of measures introduced by the Chancellor George Obsorne, HSBC announced that it was considering leaving the UK, with Hong Kong the most likely destination. The bank's shares are listed in Hong Kong and Asia accounts for roughly 70% of its profits.