Lloyds TSB provided some much-needed cheer for the beleaguered banking sector today as it reported higher profits and said it had withstood the worst of the credit crunch, reports The Guardian.
Underlying profits for 2007 were up by 6%, to £3.92bn, and shareholders see their dividend total raised by 5% to 35.9p a share.
The group, Britain's fifth-biggest bank, has taken a £280m hit on risky sub-prime loans, but that is only a fraction of the figure suffered by rivals such as Barclays which earlier this week revealed a £1.6bn write-down.
Chairman Sir Victor Blank said the bank had benefited from its cautious approach.
“Our lower risk strategy limited the impact of the abrupt change in the markets and, consequently, our charge was relatively modest in comparison to our balance sheet size, our earnings, and the charges taken by many other organizations.
SURPRISINGLY STRONG RETAIL sales figures for January suggesting that the slowdown in the economy is still some months away have been released by the Office for National Statistics, reports The Independent.
The ONS reported that retail sales rebounded to grow by 0.8% during the first month of this year compared with December 2007, after seasonal adjustments. Sales were 5.6% up on the year. This was some way ahead of City expectations.
The ONS also made an upward revision to December sales figures and the official data confirms the picture in the British Retail Consortium's survey this month of a relatively mild slowdown on the high street thus far.
CHINA’S INCREASINGLY AGGRESSIVE sovereign wealth fund (SWF) is poised to unleash a £5.14bn investment spree in Japan and is initially expected to set its sights on the energy sector, reports The Times.
Japanese government sources told The Times that the China Investment Corporation (CIC) may be mulling the purchase of a “sizeable stake” in one of the country’s largest oil and gas companies, Inpex.
The CIC is also understood to be actively recruiting in Japan to find a domestic fund manager to monitor its investments on the Tokyo Stock Exchange: the manager selected for the job is expected to be announced by the end of the month.
The CIC’s plans to invest what could be as much as $10bn across a range of Tokyo-listed stocks comes as Japan’s Financial Services Minister, Yoshimi Watanabe, described the attention of China’s SWF as “most welcome” at a time that many traditional foreign investors had abandoned Japanese stocks in disgust.
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