StockMarketWire.com - Banking group Virgin Money posted a small first-half loss after impairment charges were pushed up by the Covid-19 crisis.

Pre-tax losses for the six months through March amounted to £7m, compared to a £9m profit on-year.

Impairment losses jumped to £232m, up from £77m on-year.

Underlying operating income rose 3% to £817m amid 0.3% loan growth to £73.2bn that included 5.7% growth in business lending and a 0.9% fall in mortgage lending.

Virgin Money forecast a net interest margin for the full year of 1.55%-to-1.60% and costs of greater than £920m, reflecting the lower interest rate environment and Covid-19 impacts.

Its net interest margin in the first half was 1.62%, which it said was in line with guidance.

'The Covid-19 outbreak and its impact on the nation's businesses and consumers has markedly changed the operating environment, driving an increased impairment charge of £232m against future loan losses and a reduction in underlying profitability,' chief executive David Duffy said.

'We enter this period from a position of strength, with a defensive loan book and resilient capital position, meaning we are well-placed to help our customers and colleagues through the crisis.'

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