UK's biggest retail bank Lloyds bucks Brexit blues as profits remain stable

Lloyds Banking Group has reported third-quarter profits largely unchanged from a year ago, confounding initial expectations of a sharp squeeze on earnings caused by Britain’s surprise vote to quit the European Union.

Underlying pretax profits were £1.9 billion (Dh8.49bn), slightly under the £1.97bn booked in the corresponding period a year ago.

Total income for the quarter was £4.3bn, broadly in line with Q3 2015.

Britain’s largest retail bank also booked a fresh £1bn charge to compensate customers mis-sold loan insurance after the financial conduct authority pushed back the claims deadline by a year to mid-2019.

“The outlook for the UK economy remains uncertain, however the strength of the recovery in recent years means the UK is well positioned,” the bank said.

Lloyds also reported a £740 million deficit in its pension fund, which has been hit by falling bond yields in recent months.

Rescued in a £20.5bn taxpayer bail-out during the financial crisis, Lloyds is the first major British bank to report results that fully capture the period after the referendum results.

The chief executive Antonio Horta-Osório is searching for ways to prop up Lloyds’ dividend and profits against a more testing economic enviornment and the effects of lower-for-longer interest rates caused by the vote to leave the EU.

Since June’s referendum, shares in Lloyds have fallen by about a quarter, partly reflecting their heavy exposure to any downturn in the British economy.

Lloyds said total loans and advances to customers fell £1bn to £452bn compared with three months earlier.

* Reuters

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