Friday's lunchtime business bulletin

The Northern Rock continued to dominate the business news today.

Northern Rock warned it faced a major hit to profits today as it enlisted emergency aid from the Bank of England to ride out the crisis in global credit markets.

The UK’s fifth largest mortgage lender announced the rescue package as it warned that profits would be up to £147 million lower than expected this year as it struggles with soaring borrowing costs.

Shares slumped more than 20% after the double blow to investors. Fears over Northern Rock have wiped £3.2 billion from the stock market value of the firm since shares reached a year-high in February.

A poll has indicated that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the public’s choice to steer the UK economy through troubled waters.

Despite recent turbulence in international markets and fears of a slowdown in the US, 61% of voters favour Mr Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling to be running the Treasury.

And only 27% think David Cameron and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne would do a better job, according to a Populus poll for the Times.

A quarter of Tory supporters and some 67% of Lib Dems opted for the Labour team.

The figures will be a boost to Mr Brown. But they are grim reading for Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne, as they show Mr Brown still holds a commanding advantage on what is traditionally considered Conservative territory.

Specialist holiday firm Holidaybreak today looked set for healthy annual figures after poor weather conditions in the UK boosted bookings.

The Northwich, Cheshire-based firm said the weather had been ``generally helpful“ after it saw a rise in late bookings at its camping arm, which operates as Eurocamp and Keycamp and provides mobile homes and tents across France, Italy and seven other European countries.

The FTSE-100 index at 11:45am was down 106.2 at 6257.7.

The pound at 12pm was 2.0135 dollars compared to 2.0274 dollars at the previous close.

The euro at 12pm was 0.6891 pounds compared to 0.6848 pounds at the previous close.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer