Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 moves higher as Persimmon's results boost housebuilding stocks

London's top-flight index edged higher on Wednesday as investors snapped up housebuilding stocks in response to solid results from Persimmon.

The FTSE 100 Index was 10.37 points higher at 7,367.6, with the Charles Church owner sitting among the biggest risers after racking up another set of rising sales.

Shares in Persimmon rose more than 2%, or 54p to 2,345p, with half-year revenues growing 12% to £1.66 billion and the average selling price of its homes climbing 3.5% to around £213,000.

The firm said: "We have continued to experience good levels of customer demand since the group's AGM trading update on 27 April 2017, with the market taking the snap UK General Election in its stride."

Shares in Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey lifted 15.5p to 582p and 2.9p to 178.7p, as positive sentiment spread across the sector.

Across Europe, the Cac 40 in France and Germany's Dax both lifted by 0.1%.

On the currency markets, sterling was marginally down against the US dollar at 1.291 following a disappointing update on economic growth.

Activity in the UK's services sector recorded a deeper-than-expected fall last month, sealing a ''triple-whammy" of lacklustre results from the UK economy.

The closely-watched Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 53.4 in June, down from 53.8 in May and below economists' expectations of 53.5. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

The powerhouse industry, which accounts for around 78% of the UK economy, struggled for momentum as the inflows of new business sank to a nine-month low.

It comes after manufacturing output drifted to its lowest level for three months in June, while the construction industry took a tumble due to a dearth of new work.

Despite the results, sterling remained upbeat versus the euro, rising 0.1% to 1.139.

Elsewhere, the price of oil took a downward turn as traders reacted to rising supply from Opec and the strong US dollar.

Brent crude was down 3.2% to 48.04 US dollars a barrel, forcing oil major Royal Dutch Shell B 27p lower at 2,074p.

In UK stocks, UK payments processor Worldpay dropped 8% after reaching a preliminary agreement to merge with US rival Vantiv in a deal valuing the British group at £9.1 billion.

Vantiv's offer will see it pay 385p a share for Worldpay, or £7.7 billion, plus £ 1.4 billion to cover debts.

Its bid has muscled out rival suitor JPMorgan Chase, which confirmed it was pulling out of the takeover tussle.

Shares fell 36p to 372p after a heady rise in the previous session when its stock value climbed in excess of 23%.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Tesco up 6.4p to 173.5p, Provident Financial up 81p to 2,402p, Barratt Developments up 15.5p to 582p, London Stock Exchange Group up 87p to 3,692p.

The biggest fallers were Worldpay down 36p to 372p, Old Mutual down 3.4p to 191.8p, Barclays down 2.8p to 204.2p, BP down 5.9p to 444.2p.