Housebuilder shares were lifted on Tuesday after Britain’s third largest developer hiked its dividend and pledged to build more houses.
Taylor Wimpey shot to the top of the FTSE 100 after the developer said it would reduce the time it holds land for by a year, allowing it to accelerate sales.
The housebuilder also increased its ordinary dividend to at least £250 million a year from 2019, helping spark a 7.2p rise in the stock, which ended the day at 202.3p.
It also buoyed sentiment across the sector, sending Persimmon shares up by 51p to 2,817p, and Barratt Developments’ up 15p to 568.2p, making it the third biggest riser on the FTSE 100.
In currency markets, the pound failed to make major gains on the back of UK employment data which showed the jobless rate coming in at 4.2%.
However, the number of people seeking unemployment benefit rose by 31,200 against forecasts for an 7,800 rise.
“Despite in-line wage growth and unemployment, investors were shaken by an increase in the number of people seeking unemployment benefit,” Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at City Index, said.
“Rising claimant counts is a negative signal for the future labour market.”
Against the US dollar, the pound was down 0.34% at 1.350 but rose 0.2% versus the euro to 1.138.
Falls in sterling supported the rise of the FTSE 100, which climbed 12 points or 0.16% to 7,722.98 points.
Across Europe, the German Dax edged into the red, falling 0.06% while the French CAC 40 rose 0.23%.
In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 0.24% to 78.65 US dollars on the back of fears of a disruption in supply due to tensions in the Middle East.
In UK stocks, easyJet was the second biggest riser on the FTSE 100 after the low-cost carrier’s losses narrowed in the first half of the year.
The budget airline reported a £68 million pre-tax loss in the six months to March 31, which compares with a £236 million loss in the same period last year. Shares closed the session 56p higher at 1,741p.
Vodafone’s shares slid after the company announced chief executive Vittorio Colao will step down on October 1 after more than 10 years at the helm of the mobile phone giant.
Mr Colao, who transformed the mobile company into an international telecoms business, will be succeeded by group chief financial officer Nick Read, who will become chief executive designate from July 27.
By the market close, Vodafone’s shares were down by more than 4% or 8.82p at 198.38p, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.
Shares in the owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks slumped 18.2p to 305p after reporting half-year losses of £95 million.
It came as CYBG took a hit from the payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal.
Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods saw shares rise 0.25p to 38p, after the company said revenues rose 3.6% to £819.2 million in the 52 weeks to March 31, while pre-tax profit rocketed 74.2% to £20.9 million.
Meanwhile, the owner of Patisserie Valerie said it was eyeing up acquisition targets on the back of double-digit profit and sales growth.
Pre-tax profit at Patisserie Holdings grew by 14.2% in the six months to March 31, up from £9.7 million to £11.1 million.
Shares closed the day down 1p at 432p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Taylor Wimpey up 7.2p to 202.3p, easyJet up 56p to 1,741p, Barratt Developments up 15p to 568.2p and Hargreaves Lansdown up 46.5p to 1,921.5p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Vodafone down 8.82p to 198.38p, Fresnillo down 43.5p to 1,243p, Mediclinic International down 19.8p to 684.8p and Paddy Power Betfair down 215p to 7,760p.