Markets deal contrasting hands for trading firms

Volatile eurozone markets delivered starkly different first-half results for British trading firms the London Stock Exchange and Icap, as the LSE posted a profit rise while the inter‑dealer broker’s earnings fell.

The LSE revealed yesterday that interest from loans to European clearing clients, including Italian banks, leapt 225 per cent to £54.3 million in the six months to the end of September.

This clearing income, part of the LSE’s post-trade business, contributed to a 38 per cent rise in profit to £214.3m and a 20 per cent hike in group income to £386.5m.

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In contrast, revenue at Icap, which matches buyers and sellers of bonds and swaps contracts, was flat at £867m, while its underlying interim profit edged up just 2 per cent to £186m.

Icap chief executive Michael Spencer said: “We are living through extraordinary times in financial markets.

“Global imbalances and slowing economic activity are being played out together with the eurozone crisis. The climate of uncertainty is inevitably creating risk aversion in volatile markets around the world.”

Xavier Rolet, the LSE’s chief executive, said “exclusive discussions” that began last September about an agreed takeover of European securities trading clearing house, LCH.Clearnet, were still continuing.

The London Stock Exchange’s shares closed up 5p at 835p, while ICAP’s stock slid nearly 5 per cent, or 17.1p, to 349.9p.