Shares in British banks were broadly up on the FTSE 100 in morning trading ahead of minutes from the Bank of England, expected today.

Yesterday the Office for National Statistics said that GDP in the fourth quarter of 2010 fell 0.5 per cent. The news came as a surprise to analysts and politicians who were expecting growth of around 0.5 per cent.

The news was followed by a speech from Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, who defended the Bank's decision to keep interest rates low and added that living standards will have to decline this year.

Today the Bank is to release the minutes of its latest interest rate decision.

Despite the poor news for the economy, shares in British banks were broadly up.

By 10:25 shares in Lloyds Banking Group were up 1.19 per cent to 63.90 pence per share, RBS shares increased 1.06 per cent to 43.75 pence per share and HSBC shares rose 0.93 per cent to 704.50 pence per share.

Barclays shares were down however, by 0.12 per cent to 298.10 pence per share.

Overall the FTSE 100 was up 1.20 per cent to 5,988.54.