Profits dip at Barclays investment banking arm

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Barclays reported a further drop in profits at its powerhouse investment banking division today after market conditions remained challenging.

The BarCap arm, which accounts for around 80% of the company's profits, saw top-line income drop 14% in the third quarter, while profits stripping out accounting volatility fell 22% on the second quarter to £765 million.

Across the group, a sharp reduction in bad debts meant third quarter pre-tax profits edged ahead 8% on the previous three-month period to £1.27 billion. The figure was down 28% on the same quarter a year earlier.

John Varley, who will step down as chief executive in March after 14 years with Barclays, said: "Our income and profit performance was resilient for the first nine months of 2010 despite a subdued economic environment and moderate volumes."

The slower performance at BarCap mirrors updates last week from Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC as the sector faces up to weaker market activity.

In the UK retail banking division, profits were up by 20% to £734 million across the nine months to September 30. This reflected a £100 million gain on last year's acquisition of Standard Life Bank and a year-on-year improvement in bad debts as economic conditions continued to improve.

Mr Varley added: "We understand what is required of us to support private sector-led economic activity and have lent some £35 billion to UK households and businesses in 2010, an increase of over 30% versus the same period in 2009."