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Thursday paper round-up: Lloyds, Federal Reserve, M&S

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Treasury takes step towards Lloyds sale; Federal Reserve confident about US growth; Marks and Spencer sees another fall in clothes division.

Lloyds has started to prepare a prospectus for a sale of about £6bn of its taxpayer-owned stake to ordinary investors and City institutions in what could be one of the Government’s most eye-catching measures in the Budget. Steve Davies, co-manager of the Jupiter UK Growth fund, said: “The timing works perfectly. It will be after Lloyds’ results, when the bank should give guidance that the loan book is growing and costs are improving, and will come as about £50bn from Vodafone’s sale of its Verizon stake will flow to shareholders.” – The Times

ARM Holdings‘ chief executive has said the emergence of low-cost smartphones and Apple’s move into China will drive sales at the British microchip designer. Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Simon Segars said that as the price of mobile phones falls, billions of people are going to be able to upgrade to newer models. This will have a knock-on effect for ARM as around 95% of the world’s smartphones use its chip technology. – The Daily Telegraph

Federal Reserve policymakers displayed increasing confidence about the US economic outlook last month, but held strongly divergent views on how rapidly to scale back the central bank’s easy-money stimulus programme. Minutes from the Federal Open Markets Committee meeting, published yesterday, revealed that the decision was fiercely debated with some members wanting to hold back and others suggesting a much deeper reduction. – The Times

BT and BSkyB may have to engage in a new multi-billion-pound battle for pay-TV supremacy as early as this year, because the Premier League wants to bring forward the next auction of football broadcasting rights by up to six months. The plan has been aired by the Premier League in private meetings with broadcasters and has met some opposition. BSkyB and BT are already paying record sums for rights. – The Daily Telegraph

Marks & Spencer has suffered a tenth successive quarterly like-for-like sales decline in its beleaguered homewares and clothing division. The group admitted that a series of discounts to drive seasonal sales – including a pre-Christmas “Mega Day” with reductions of up to 30% on clothing lines – would hit profit margins when full-year results are reported later this year. – The Scotsman