Alliance & Leicester is on course to pull £4bn of capacity out of the UK’s already undersupplied mortgage market this year, heaping more misery on home buyers. Financial Times, Daily Telegraph

Britain’s seventh-largest mortgage lender revealed yesterday that its mortgage balances fell £1.5bn in the first four months of the year to £41.2bn.

The bank sparked fresh concerns about its capital base yesterday after it reported £192m of further writedowns from its Treasury assets and refused to rule out the possibility of a dividend cut.

The fresh writedown was for exotic assets such as structured investment vehicles, which will be included in its profit and loss account.

It also took another £199m of writedowns through its reserves, though this will not reduce its regulatory capital or hit profits.