Housebuilders boost FTSE

Housebuilding shares continued their rebound today as traders eyed value in the sector after yesterday’s quarter point cut in interest rates.

Housebuilding shares continued their rebound today as traders eyed value in the sector after yesterday’s quarter point cut in interest rates.

Taylor Wimpey led the charge with a gain of 7%, while the FTSE 100 Index was up 1% or 63 points to 6548.6, amid hopes that the start of next year will not be as grim as some analysts had been forecasting earlier this week.

The rise of Wimpey, up 14.95p at 214.25p, was matched by Charles Church owner Persimmon, which lifted 44.5p to 795p. Barratt Developments cheered 12.75p to 461p, while property firm British Land added 46p to 977.5p.

Build Center chain Wolseley rallied 5%, or 34p to 720p, as investors hoped the downturn forecast for its UK business could be avoided.

Only ten stocks were in negative territory, led by BSkyB after the satellite broadcaster said James Murdoch was stepping down as chief executive, to be replaced by finance director Jeremy Darroch. Shares fell 17p to 587.5p.

Northern Rock fell by less than 1%, down 0.3p at 102.7p, after private equity group JC Flowers quit the battle for the mortgage bank. The blow was cushioned by the tabling of formal proposals from investment group Olivant, which wants a stake in Northern rather than make a full offer.

Supermarkets and dairy companies were also under the spotlight after the Office of Fair Trading said a number of them had agreed to pay fines following its investigation into price fixing during 2002 and 2003.

They included Sainsbury’s, which was unchanged at 443p, while Dairy Crest lifted 7%, or 37p to 577p, after its early admission to the OFT resulted in a “significantly reduced” fine of £9.4 million.

Other FTSE 250 Index risers included housebuilders Berkeley Group, ahead 80p at 1331p, and Bovis Homes, following a rise of 37p to 640.6p.

However, Emap shares fell 7% or 65p to 760p, after it agreed the £1.14 billion sale of its consumer magazines and radio businesses, but disappointed investors by failing to offload the company’s business information titles.

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