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London’s FTSE 100 index ended the day in the green despite the best efforts of struggling housebuilders led by Barratt Developments.
For months investors have been wondering what impact the end of the stamp duty holiday would have on the sector.
On Thursday, Barratt provided part of the answer to this. The company has had a good past 12 months, but private reservations have dropped to 12% below what they were in the full year.
It pushed the housebuilder’s shares down by 4.5%. It was joined in the red by fellow builders Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Berkeley Group.
But their retreats were not enough to push the FTSE 100 into the red. By the end of the day it had gained 0.2%, led by Melrose Industries and the oil majors.
The 14.06 point rise pushed the index to 7,163.9
Energy companies around the world have been boosted by the price of oil. By one measure, Brent crude, it rose another 2.5% on Thursday to 73.38 dollars per barrel.
“The energy sector has been a notable outperformer today, with ExxonMobil and Chevron following the lead from UK-listed blue-chip energy stocks BP, and Royal Dutch Shell,” said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.
“With hurricane Ida causing a sharp slump in US crude production, we have seen Brent crude rise to the highest level in a month.
“Opec has shown few signs of bending to Joe Biden’s wish for higher production thus far, and thus the sharp decline in US output provides yet another reason for confidence from oil bulls.”
The FTSE tracked rises across the pond. In New York the S&P 500 and Dow Jones had both gained 0.4% shortly after markets closed in Europe.
On the continent, the Dax and Cac 40, in Germany and France respectively, gained 0.1% apiece.
“US markets are leading the push higher today, as a marginal beat in the jobless claims reading did help allay some of the fears brought about after a disappointing ADP payrolls release yesterday,” Mr Mahony said.
The business that bottles Coca-Cola in the UK and Europe said it is facing a shortage of aluminium cans, but shares rose 4.3% after profit before tax nearly doubled.
Gym Group joined Coca-Cola as a strong performer, with shares gaining 8.1% despite posting a bigger loss and lower revenues in the first six months of the year thanks to lockdowns.
Jet2 closed down 0.2% after saying its winter season is under “continuous review”.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Melrose Industries, up 12.36p to 184.24p, Prudential, up 55.5p to 1,536.5p, Weir Group, up 54p to 1,785.5p, BP, up 5.65p to 299.9p, and Shell A, up 27.2p to 1,455.4p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BHP, down 124p to 2,107p, United Utilities, down 33.4p to 709.4p, BT, down 6.5p to 162.15p, Admiral Group, down 139p to 3,488p, and B&M, down 15p to 540p.