THE ECONOMIC slowdown and a fall in used-car prices saw profits flat at car and van hire group Lex Service, new owners of the RAC's breakdown business, it said yesterday. But the group was upbeat, saying that despite the tough conditions, profits were in line with last year, pointing to an encouraging second half. Its car leasing business had suffered as used- car prices were driven down by low consumer confidence and a lowering in the price of new cars, but the group yesterday said the market had stabilised. The chief executive, Andy Harrison, said: "Lex's profits were in line with the strong performance in the first half last year, despite tougher trading conditions and lower market prices for used cars." Pre- tax profits for the six months to June 30 were pounds 37.8m, up from pounds 37.2m the previous year on turnover of pounds 789.4m, which was almost unchanged on last year's pounds 789.5m. But the group said the second half would see its plans to build RAC as the leading motoring services brand hit the road. "Buying RAC is the most significant thing Lex has done for some time," it added.