Nice work at RBS

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No doubt about what today’s big story is. The Bank of England’s quarter-point cut in rates to 5.5 per cent had already been priced in so the FTSE 100 is only up a touch, but it’s a significant moment nevertheless.

Perfectly on cue, Bellway provided fresh evidence of the slowdown in the housing market today, saying orders had deteriorated in the last two months and Alexon, the little women’s wear retailer, warned about its prospects. Theo Fennell, on the other hand, is blingtastic with profits boosted by its overseas expansion.

The big corporate story, though, is RBS’s reassuring statement, which sent its shares up nearly 9 per cent. It said its results would be “well ahead of market consensus” forecasts, while writedowns of £950m were below most analysts’ forecasts. Another £300m of writedowns could come from ABN’s US mortgage related assets but RBS also said said the acquisition of ABN was now expected to produce “better financial returns than we envisaged at the time of the bid”. Greater detail on the ABN numbers would have been nice, however.

We should have more to say later on the bidding for Northern Rock. As we wrote this morning, Olivant is expected to put in its proposal today.

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