CONSIDERING the turmoil that Lloyds has been through in recent years, it would be wrong to expect anything other than a mixed picture at this stage in its long march back to health. Still, it would be nice if the image were a little clearer, a fact not helped by management’s aversion to numbers in yesterday’s remarkably sketchy trading update.

There was good underlying income growth and a modest improvement in the all-important net interest margin (NIM), which stood at 2.08 per cent in the first half.

Elsewhere, impairments continue to fall, albeit at a slower rate, with some analysts worried that it is too early for Lloyds to be losing steam at this juncture in its recovery.

The mix of impairments has also shifted, with Ireland’s woes taking their toll on the loan book in the Republic. However, an improving environment in wholesale, where write-offs are falling more quickly than expected, is said to have offset the worst of the impact.

Meanwhile, Lloyds continues to wean itself off of government funding, a necessary if painful process. But investors should urge caution until we get the full numbers.