Housebuilders were on rocky foundations yesterday after poor mortgage data set investors’ alarm bells ringing.
Industry figures from UK Finance gave the housebuilding sector a double-whammy knock – the number of mortgages approved for new homes dropped in July, while net mortgage lending hit a five-month low.
Persimmon, the UK’s largest listed housebuilder, ended the day down 1.4 per cent, or 35p, at 2454p.
It was closely followed by its rivals Taylor Wimpey, which slipped 1.5 per cent, or 2.6p, to 168.8p, and Barratt Developments, which fell 0.8 per cent, or 4.6p, to 541.8p.
Industry figures from UK Finance show the number of mortgages approved for new homes dropped in July, while net mortgage lending hit a five-month low
The smaller players cemented losses too, as the FTSE 250’s Crest Nicholson (2.6 per cent, or 10.2p, to 387.4p), Bovis Homes (1.6p per cent, or 18p, to 1122p) and McCarthy & Stone (1.4 per cent, or 1.6p, to 111p) all limped lower.
But the weakening from the likes of Taylor Wimpey was not enough to pull the FTSE 100 down at the end of the week, as it closed 0.2 per cent, or 14.27 points higher, at 7,577.49 points.
Miners propped up the blue-chip index as they benefited from a weaker US dollar, which makes commodities prices more attractive to investors.
Antofagasta racked up a 3.6 per cent, or 28.6p gain, to close at 833.6p, as Glencore (3.3 per cent, or 10.25p, to 320.75p) and Anglo American (2.5 per cent, or 39p, to 1575p) followed hot on its heels.
Stock Watch – Bahamas Petroleum
Oil and gas exploration company Bahamas Petroleum had its worst day on the stock market in its 14-year listed history, plunging 68.8 per cent, or 4.37p, to 1.98p.
The firm admitted an agreement it had with a ‘major international oil company’ to review its projects in the Bahamas had fallen through.
Investors had hoped the exclusivity agreement could lead to a deal between Bahamas Petroleum and the unnamed oil giant, to help fund its first exploration well.
Pharmaceuticals giant Shire also injected some life into the index, as it climbed 2 per cent, or 90.5p, to 4513p.
Investors were welcoming the US’s Food and Drug Administration’s decision to approve Shire’s Takhzyro drug, which is used to prevent attacks of hereditary angioedema, a disease which causes swelling of the body parts and which can be fatal.
The green light was welcome news for Shire’s Japanese rival Takeda, which is set to buy the firm in a £46billion deal if competition regulators approve.
Its shares also crept up by 2.1 per cent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as analysts at investment bank Jefferies predicted the Takhzyro drug could generate peak worldwide sales of £1.4billion.
Meanwhile, it was another day of volatility at newspaper owner Johnston Press. On Thursday shares in the owner of The Scotsman and The I rocketed 56.2 per cent as an unusually large number of trades occurred.
The flurry of activity prompted speculation that a new investor was hoovering up shares on the sly. The trend continued yesterday as another 1.6m shares changed hands, compared to just 1.3m in the whole of last week.
However this time the activity pushed Johnston’s shares down by 4 per cent, or 0.22p, to 5.23p.
Sweetener maker Purecircle recovered slightly after battling through a bitter four-day decline, which wiped 25.9 per cent or £183million off its market value.
The company reassured observers that this was not a case of insider trading, where people who have access to secret information trade on that knowledge to make a profit.
Purecircle said: ‘The directors are not aware of any price sensitive information about the company which has yet to be disclosed.’
Its shares rose yesterday by 5 per cent, or 15p, to 315p.
South African coal miner Bisichi Mining’s shares steamed ahead on the back of strong half-year results.
Earnings were up 271.4 per cent to £5.2million, while profit before tax rocketed from £0.2million to £4million, lifting the company’s stock by 12.7 per cent, or 13p, to 115p.
It has come under fire from shareholders recently for the pay awarded to chief executive Andrew Heller, who last year pocketed just under £900,000 from his job – almost 10 per cent of the company’s £11million stock market value.