As we head into a Bank holiday weekend, the first official weekend of the British summer, we seem to be in for a mixed bag of weather – much like the mixed results from the UK retailers.

But of course, this isn’t any annual report, this is a Marks and Spencer annual report… covered in plenty of jam as MandS revealed an increase in profit of nearly 13% – so it is not all doom and gloom on the high street. Sales were increased by 4.2% to £9.7bn much of which is accredited to improvements in the in-store presentation and additional food ranges. If only the State and Banking system was run!

It may not be that great a Bank Holiday for UK Bankers as Moody’s (one of the credit ratings agencies) feels similarly about UK Banks, but frankly they are in no position to carp as all of the credit rating agencies were factors in the lack of appreciation of risk and “whats under the bonnet” that made the credit crunch as bad as it was (or is). Anyhow, on Tuesday they warned that they are likely to be reducing their rating (a gold star system that now seems even less worthwhile than those handed out at primary school) for 14 of our UK Banks and Building Societies. These are Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander UK, Bank of Ireland UK, Co-operative Bank, Coventry Building Society, Nationwide Building Society, Newcastle Building Society, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, Nottingham Building Society, Principality Building Society, Skipton Building Society, West Bromwich Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society. The main reason cited for the possible downgrade is that the UK Government would be less likely now, than in the past to bail them out…. which frankly tells us all nothing that we didn’t already think. In my humble opinion it tells us very little about each of the Banks concerned. Although you will note that two of the big 4 banks are missing from this list (Barclays and HSBC). The impact of this is a guessing game, but possible outcomes are that the share prices in the identified Banks reduce and just for good measure their own borrowing costs are likely to increase…so nobody wins.
Sadly, the Japanese earthquake and its impact on the nuclear power plant at Fukushima has left its owners Tepco reporting a £9.4bn loss, which is the tenfold reverse figure of their profit in 2010. So the last few months has cost them the equivalent of the last 10 years, never mind the future costs that they are likely to suffer as they attempt to restore the region to some form of safe environment. Even giant firm Sony has reported a loss for the year at £2bn which has had disrupted supply chain impacts compounded by the cyber attack on its game platform PlayStation.
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