The most gripping news today is Bank of England governor Mervyn King firmly refusing to provide more help to the banks.
“The provision of large liquidity facilities penalises those financial institutions that sat out the dance, encourages herd behaviour and increases the intensity of future crises,” he told MPs today. “The current turmoil, which has at its heart the earlier under-pricing of risk, has disturbed the unusual serenity of recent years, but, managed properly, it should not threaten our long-run economic stability.”
In other words: “Sort out your own mess.” The Bank has indicated as much before, of course, but never quite so clearly. In stark contrast, the ECB this morning loaned commercial banks €75bn ($104bn) for three months. Barclays and HBOS shares are off just over 1 per cent. RBS is down more than 2 per cent.
The main corporate story is the long-awaited strategy update from Michael Grade at ITV. It looks sensible enough (improve programming without cutting the dividend). But it will take until 2012 to come right. The execution risk here is huge and the shares fell back 2.3 per cent this morning. Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Ben Fenton are working through the details.
Panmure Gordon reinforced the subdued mood in the mid-market stockbroking sector after it warned of early signs that corporate finance deals were being put on hold and said market volatility was hitting its equity sales and trading business.
Keep an eye on BAE. Neil Hume told me by the lifts this morning that the group was phoning around checking contact names and email addresses. The stock is one of the main risers in the FTSE 100 today on hopes this means it will announce a Eurofighter deal with Saudi Arabia tomorrow.
Home Retail Group confirmed fears that the summer had been a washout for DIY enthusiasts as it reported a sharp drop in sales at Homebase but the pace of growth at catalogue retailer Argos helped lift the shares.