Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 falls further into red as housing firms struggle

London's top flight index sank further into the red as a slump from house builders and commodity stocks weighed heavily on the market.

The FTSE 100 Index was 69.6 points lower at 6231.9 following the release of a study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which said more surveyors were expecting prices to fall in the next three months than those predicting a rise.

The update took its toll on housing stocks, with Charles Church-owner Persimmon dropping 0.3%.

Mining and oil giants also helped to cut the London market's winning streak, after Brent crude fell back from fresh 2016 highs, dropping more than 1% to 51.92 US dollars a barrel.

Antofagasta was the biggest faller, down more than 6% or 28.3p to 423.4p, as it was also hit by an overnight economic update from China showing its inflation slowed to 2% in May.

Sainsbury's was down despite Home Retail Group seeing Argos sales notch up their best performance for two years, shrugging off poor early spring weather.

Home Retail, which is in the midst of a £1.4 billion takeover by Sainsbury's, said like-for-like sales at Argos edged up 0.1% in the 13 weeks to May 28, while total sales rose 2.6% to £868 million, thanks to a surge in online sales.

Sainsbury's was 1.2% lower and Home Retail fell 0.2%.

Markets across Europe were also languishing in negative territory after the German economy showed signs of stagnation, with the Federal Statistical Office pointing to flat exports and slowing imports in May.

Germany's Dax was 1.3% lower and the Cac 40 in France slumped 0.9%.

Sterling was 0.4% lower at 1.445 against the dollar after it was revealed that Britain enjoyed the biggest surge in exports for more than 13 years in April after Brexit fears sparked sharp falls in the value of the pound.

Official figures showed exports jumped by 9.1% between March and April to hit £ 26.1 billion, the fastest month-on-month growth since January 2003.

This helped the UK's overall trade gap narrow to £3.3 billion in April, the smallest since September, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The pound was up 0.3% against the euro at 1.277.

In stocks, Persimmon was down 5p to 1019p, while miner Glencore edged 7.8p lower to 137.9 and Royal Dutch Shell fell 11.5p to 1796.5p.

Sainsbury's and Home Retail Group were both down despite strong trading from Argos.

Home Retail said Argos's digital makeover was bearing fruit as internet sales rose 16% in the quarter - its strongest growth for more than three years - with online sales making up almost half of all revenues.

Shares in Sainsbury's dropped 3.1p to 247.5p and Home Retail slipped 0.3p to 160.7p.

Telecoms giant Vodafone was heavily down after announcing a deal to merge its New Zealand business with media group Sky Network Television.

Shares were off nearly 5%, or 11.4p, to 219.7p.

Autotrader climbed higher, up 21.6p to 424.1p, as profits accelerated last year as the firm continues to dominate the sector.

It said full-year operating profit revved up by 19% to £171.3 million as increased advertising revenue boosted sales.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Sky up 26.5p to 955p, Carnival up 59p to 3410p, Rangold Resources up 90p to 6625p, Fresnillo up 14p to 1211p.

The biggest fallers were Antofagasta down 28.3p to 423.4p, Glencore down 7.8p to 137.9p, Vodafone down 11.4p to 219.7p, BHP Billiton down 40.9p to 860.1p.

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