Morning papers: Banks turn uneasy on Help to Buy

Some of Britain’s leading mortgage lenders have expressed misgivings about the government’s latest “Help to Buy” initiative, leaving the state-backed banks Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds as the only pair to have endorsed the scheme, reports the Financial Times.

Help to Buy, launched in April, was originally designed as a government loan scheme to support buyers of new-build houses. But the second phase of the scheme, fast-forwarded to this week from its original launch date of next year, offers a government guarantee for higher-risk mortgages on any kind of home.

Royal Mail set to debut at 340p, say bookmakers

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The flotation of Royal Mail looks set to get away to a flyer next week, according to City bookmakers, reports The Times.

Spread-betting firms operating a so-called grey market in Royal Mail shares - a bet on what the price will be at the close of its debut day’s trading on Friday week - were indicating last night that the shares could hit 340p.

Dividend cover drops at FTSE 350 groups

Payouts to investors in the UK’s largest listed companies have outstripped earnings by so much recently that profits now cover a far smaller multiple of the dividends than they did less than two years ago, reports the Financial Times.

The ratio of profits to dividends – known as dividend cover – for members of the FTSE 350 index fell 40 per cent between the end of 2011 and early this year, from 2.3 times to just 1.4 times, according to research by the Share Centre stockbroker. The payout ratio is now at its lowest since the end of 2009, when the number was rising in the immediate aftermath of the financial crash.

Bankers face jail term for ‘reckless misconduct’

Senior bankers will face up to seven years in jail if they are found to have committed a new offence of reckless misconduct being proposed by the government as part of a series of measures to clean up the City in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis, reports the Guardian.

The reckless misconduct charge was one of the main recommendations of the high-profile parliamentary report into banking commissioned by the government in the wake of the Libor rigging scandal.

Profit is not a dirty word, says Cameron

Profit is not a dirty word, David Cameron will say today, as he mounts a passionate defence of big business.

In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the prime minister will contrast Tory support for aspiration with Labour’s threats of state control.

HS2 ‘will boost British economy by 25pc more than estimates’

The controversial high-speed rail link HS2 is likely to boost the British economy by “at least 25 per cent more” than the £15bn official estimate, the Conservative Party conference was told, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Bridget Rosewell, a leading economist and director of Network Rail, said the benefit costs calculated by KPMG had only accounted for current productivity being able to move more freely. She argued that the new connectivity would create economic growth that could not yet be seen.