UK financial services looked gloomy even before Covid-19 crisis

Britain’s financial services sector suffered a drop in profits and a spike in bad debts even before the coronavirus prompted a countrywide lockdown.

The latest CBI/PwC financial services survey paints a disappointing picture for the sector, with banks, insurers and fund managers already reporting a drop in optimism over the three months to March – and rising concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report, which polled 103 firms, found that profitability fell slightly: 27% of firms reported a drop in profits versus 24% which reported a rise, giving a rounded-up balance of -4%. The value of non-performing loans rose at the fastest pace since September 2009, with a somewhat slower increase expected over the coming quarter.

A jump in bad debts could be worrying for banks, which are on the frontline of the Treasury’s coronavirus rescue plans. Those plans include doling out up to £330bn worth of cheap loans to

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Coronavirus insider trading cases against Burr, Loeffler and others differ drastically

In the frenzy of initial media reporting in March, Senators Richard Burr, Kelly Loeffler, Dianne Feinstein, and Jim Inhofe were often grouped together in allegations of insider trading regarding the coronavirus-induced stock market tailspin.

That was not fair to Ms Feinstein or Mr Inhofe, and, perhaps to a lesser degree, Ms Loeffler, multiple insider trading experts have subsequently told The Independent.

The context surrounding each of the four senators’ transactions differs substantially, and so, too, do their individual explanations.

It isn’t just a public relations nightmare for these lawmakers: The 2012 STOCK Act prohibits members of Congress and other federal employees from using non-public information gleaned from government briefings and reports to turn a private profit in the stock market.

The Justice Department, in conjunction with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has begun investigating some lawmakers’ asset transactions, multiple outlets reported last month.

Here is a

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Stocks gain on China trade data, easing pandemic worries

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks gained on Tuesday after Chinese trade data came in better than expected and as some countries tried to restart their economies by partly lifting restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic.

European stock markets opened stronger, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index rising 0.5% to its highest since March 11. U.S. stock futures were up nearly 1%.

Analysts said the threat of a much deeper and prolonged downturn was starting to dissipate as new coronavirus cases declined in major economies and a raft of monetary and fiscal stimulus measures took effect globally.

Spanish shares <.IBEX> gained as much as 1.5% as some businesses reopened, although shops, bars and public spaces were set to stay closed until at least April 26.

“Although further slowdown in the pandemic’s spreading may keep sentiment supported, we are still reluctant to trust a long-lasting recovery, and we

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SoftBank record loss estimate renews asset sale focus

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp’s <9984.T> estimate it will post a record $13 billion (10.36 billion pounds) full-year loss, dragged down by its spluttering $100 billion Vision Fund, has renewed attention on a planned asset sell-down aimed at raising cash and restoring confidence.

SoftBank shares fell as much as 4% on Tuesday before recovering to close up 5% after the group late on Monday said it sees a 1.8 trillion yen ($16.7 billion) full-year loss at the Vision Fund as its tech bets crumble.

The disastrous performance at the fund on which Chief Executive Masayoshi Son has staked his reputation will drag the entire group to its largest annual loss, underscoring the need for his plan to raise up to 4.5 trillion yen through asset sales.

While domestic carrier SoftBank Corp <9434.T> is seen as a possible target, SoftBank is dependent on its dividends for cash

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