Inside the snake-pit

From today’s Telegraph

The Bank of England has demanded the Financial Services Authority investigate inaccurate rumours sweeping the market that a British lender is in crisis after being forced to issue a vehement denial that it has been called into emergency meetings.

Sources said the Bank was livid with what it believes are short sellers attempting to turn a profit by spreading false stories about distressed lenders that could undermine the stability of Britain’s financial system in these fragile markets.

A Bank spokesman said: “No meeting has taken place or been scheduled with any financial institution in the UK.”

It added that it made no loans through its standing facility yesterday.

HBOS appeared to be the main target of this morning’s speculation. Its shares tumbled up to 11pc on rumours that it had applied for emergency central bank funding despite a clear denial.

An HBOS spokesman said: “There is not a shred of substance whatsoever in these unfounded and malicious rumours. This is a classic case of a lie being half way round the world before truth has its boots on. It is deeply concerning these rumours are circulating the markets.

“HBOS is one of the strongest financial institutions in the world with a balance sheet of £660bn the group has also had the largest deposit base in the UK. We are one of the most respected names in the wholesale and capital markets. HBOS is a very strong financial institution.”