WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Moody’s to review its ratings on RBS

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Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland were higher before the group was threatened with a downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s.

After the market closed, the agency placed on review for downgrade some of the bank’s debt and deposit ratings, as well as the long-term ratings of the group as a whole.

Moody’s said: “RBS’s recent announcement demonstrates that its management faces a number of short-term headwinds, which could challenge the implementation of the [turnaround] plan and in turn be negative for its creditors. In addition, Moody’s believes that the overall downside risks associated with the bank’s recovery have increased.”

RBS shares were up 3p at 346.2p, on a day when the FTSE 100 struggled to hold on to early gains and closed just 2.37 points higher at 6,675.03.

The Footsie drifted lower after latest guidance on interest rates from the Bank of England sparked a rally in the pound, as governor Mark Carney failed to dampen expectations of a hike in 2015.

Barclays remained under pressure as it continued to suffer the fall-out from its full-year results on Tuesday, when it revealed that profits in its investment bank division had slumped. Shares were down 4.2p to 260.4p, adding to a 4 per cent drop in the previous session.

In corporate results, Nurofen and Dettol owner Reckitt Benckiser rose 28p to 4,855p after it reported a 2 per cent gain in operating profits for 2013.

But an update from Tullow Oil failed to appease investors despite a new discovery in Mauritania. While revenues and cash flows were solid, profits were knocked by lower disposal gains and exploration write-offs. The shares lost 53p to 792.5p, a drop of more than 6 per cent.