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London markets edge higher after GDP update fails to excite

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The FTSE 100 index closed up 0.16%, or 11.59 points, to 7,141.82 on Wednesday (Victoria Jones / PA) (PA Wire)
The FTSE 100 index closed up 0.16%, or 11.59 points, to 7,141.82 on Wednesday (Victoria Jones / PA) (PA Wire)

New gross domestic product data for the UK failed to excite markets on Wednesday, with investors more interested in the demand for raw materials from Chinese factories.

Closures have spooked some investors, with mining firms listed in London taking some of the brunt.

But the market was helped by housebuilders shrugging off supply chain worries to close out the day virtually flat, with the FTSE 100 nudging 11.59 points, or 0.16%, higher to 7,141.82.

“London’s blue-chip index enjoyed a late surge, and despite a slowdown in the construction sector, because of those supply issues and cost pressures, the biggest risers were housebuilders after a fairly decent set of results from Barratt which pulled the rest of the pack up,” said AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson.

In Europe, the German Dax closed 0.7% higher and the French Cac rose by 0.8%.

The pound increased by 0.06% to 1.364 against the dollar and rose 0.07% to 1.178 against the euro.

In company news, Barratt Developments gave shareholders an upbeat message ahead of its annual general meeting that supply chain issues were not impacting the housebuilder as much as some had thought.

Bosses said they were still on track to complete between 17,000 and 17,250 homes in the current financial year, which ends next June.

It sent shares up 40.4p to 682.2p, dragging up rivals Taylor Wimpey by 5.9p to 155.3p and Persimmon, up 92p to 2,657p.

Car dealership business Vertu Motors also said the supply chain issues were having a positive impact as demand meant prices were rising, boosting profit margins.

Shares closed up 4p at 58.6p.

Elsewhere, THG – formerly known as The Hut Group – managed to avoid more heavy share falls on Wednesday following a 35% drop on Tuesday after a disastrous Capital Markets Day failed to soothe investors.

Bosses attempted to assure markets on Wednesday, issuing a statement that “it knows of no notifiable reason” for the heavy falls. Shares still closed 8.4p lower at 276.6p.

At British Gas owner, Centrica, the company decided to scrap its own planned Capital Markets Day, saying the current gas price crisis meant it was too busy dealing with that.

The company reassured investors it had hedging in place for the winter to avoid spikes in prices but shareholders appeared spooked by the cancellation, with shares down 2.78p at 58.3p.

Pub group Marston’s said sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels for the first time following the removal of restrictions in pubs and bars.

The firm said like-for-like sales in the quarter from July 25 to October 2 were 2% higher than those seen in 2019 across its estate of around 1,500 pubs. Shares closed 0.05p lower at 72.8p.

High street retailer Shoe Zone said it will swing back to a profit for the past year after growing digital sales helped the company’s post-pandemic recovery.

Pre-tax profits will be at least £6.5 million for the year to October 2, it said, sending shares up 11.5p to 78p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Barratt, up 40.4p at 682.2p, Ocado, up 67.5p at 1,717p, Taylor Wimpey, up 5.9p at 155.3p, and Aveva, up 137p at 3,611p.

The biggest fallers were Standard Chartered, down 13.4p at 477.8p, BT Group, down 3.85p at 1414p, IAG, down 4.34p at 171.56p, and Informa, down 13.6p at 559.4p.

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