By politics.co.uk sttaff
The gradual recovery of Britain's banking sector continued today, as Lloyds posted a pre-tax profit and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sold off branches to Santander.
Lloyds, which is 41%-owned by the taxpayer, registered a £1.6 billion profit for the first half of the year, compared to the £4 billion loss it posted at the same point last year.
The profit was due largely to having to set aside less money for bad loans, which was down from £13.4 billion to £6.5 billion.
Costs fell by £1 billion, due predominantly to job losses, and total income came in at £12.5 billion, up from £9.8 billion.
"The first half of 2010 was a significant milestone for Lloyds Banking Group as the group returned to profit," Lloyds said.
"Despite the challenging economic environment, the core business performed strongly and we continued to see positive momentum across all the key income lines."
Meanwhile, RBS finally confirmed that it would sell 318 branches to Spanish banking giant Santander.
The move includes seven NatWest sites in Scotland, with the other branches being composed of RBS branches in England and Wales.
Earlier this week Northern Rock, whose fall foreshadowed the financial crisis, and HSBC, which avoided the worst effects of the downturn, both returned a profit, leading to increased confidence in the banking sector.