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UK's Close Brothers fiscal 2021 market-maker profits already ahead of last year

May 21 (Reuters) - British lender Close Brothers said on Friday the market maker business has made more operating profit so far in its current year than over the whole of fiscal 2020, bolstered by strong trading activity.

The company said average daily bargains were at 120,000 in the quarter ended April 30, compared with 82,000 as at the end of last July in the Winterflood segment.

In its banking arm, loan book rose 3.2% in the quarter to 8.2 billion pounds ($11.63 billion), boosted by strong demand for loans issued under the government’s pandemic loan scheme.

Close Brothers’ managed assets grew to 14.8 billion pounds from 13.8 billion pounds at the start of the year.

Despite the strong quarterly reading, the mid-cap company said the impact of the global health crisis on customers was still uncertain.

“Our impairment provisions continue to reflect the uncertain external environment and the fact that the full impact of COVID-19 has yet to be reflected in experienced credit performance,” Close Brothers said.

Other banks have also flagged similar concerns in their outlook. Larger lender Virgin Money has said the strain on customer finances from the crisis was likely to increase later this year, when support measures are expected to be wound down. ($1 = 0.7050 pounds) (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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