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27 July 2007

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Alliance & Leicester (A&L) has posted a ten per cent rise in first-half profits, narrowly beating analysts' expectations.

The British bank's profit for the period stood at $604.8 million, up around $4 million from projections from market watchers.

Profit for the year ago period was $558 million.

One of the principal factors behind the peformance was increased efficiency as an increase in internet banking customers saw the firm's costs as percentage of income improve to 51.8 per cent from 54.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, profit from unsecured loans was up to $2.8 billion - a rise of 22 per cent - giving the company a share of 7.6 per cent of the market.

However, a statement from A&L noted that it expects that growth in the UK housing market and in the commercial lending sector will begin to slow as five interest rate rises in a year begin to bite.

The rate hikes will also impact on the size of the unsecured lending market, the bank has predicted.

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