StockMarketWire.com - Housebuilders and estate agents slumped as new figures revealed further deterioration in UK property activity. Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors blamed a fall in sales during October on sustained decline in demand from buyers and agreed sales.

Among the biggest fallers in the housebuilding sector were Persimmon (PSN) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.), both down by approximately 3% in value.

Mid-cap housebuilder Redrow (RDW) revealed slower sales over October, which reinforced investor jitters and resulted in a 5.5% drop in the stock to 606.3p.

Estate agent Countrywide (CWD) said it full year results would be towards the lower end of market expectations, sending its shares down 1.2% to 127.2p.

The FTSE fell 33.2 points to 7,496 around midday.

Brent crude oil nudged 0.1% higher to $63.58 per barrel.

OVERSEAS MARKETS

On Wall Street last night, stock markets were stable despite uncertainty over whether President Donald Trump's tax reform would be enacted.

Bucking the trend was the S&P 500, up 0.3% at 6,789.

MID AND LARGE CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Trench coats seller Burberry (BRBY) was in the spotlight following a change in strategy that could drag on profit short-term as the company said it would focus on leather goods and cut sales to non-luxury stores. Shares in Burberry fell 9.2% to £18.02 on the news.

Supermarket chain Sainsbury's (SBRY) continued to struggle after it reported its fourth consecutive decline in quarterly sales growth as competition from its rivals intensified.

In the 28 weeks to 23 September, profit fell 9% to £251m despite a 1.6% increase in like-for-like sales. Investors were concerned about the weaker performance as the stock dropped 2.1% to 228.5p.

Superdry brand owner Supergroup (SPG) maintained its strong performance this year after revealing a 25% sales surge to £756.3m in the half year to 31 October. Yet investors took profit, causing the shares to deflate 0.9% to £18.31.

Lloyd's of London insurer Beazley (BEZ) was flat at 503p despite the company hiking its anticipated second half pre-tax profit by $25m, taking the overall hit to £175m from natural disasters. The latest increase was triggered by wildfires in California.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) continued to spiral downwards, cutting its sales guidance for its generics business for the third time this year as challenging conditions dragged on performance. The stock declined 9% to 944.5p. Hikma's partner for its delayed asthma treatment, Vectura (VEC), slumped 6.7% to 89.9p.

Pharmaceutical colossus AstraZeneca (AZN) reported better than anticipated earnings performance towards 'the favourable end of a low to mid-teens percentage decline'. This was surprising considering lower sales over the last quarter. Investors focused on the positives and marked the stock 1% higher at £50.45.

Bikes seller Halfords (HFD) struggled with higher costs from a weaker pound, which produced a smaller than anticipated half year profit. Shares in the retailer reversed 5.2% to 315.2p.

Power grid operator National Grid (NG.) was down 3.4% to 896.9p after its interim profit fall was worse than expected due to weakness in its UK electricity transmission division.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

On AIM, telecommunications service provider CityFibre (CITY) won a £500m infrastructure partnership with Vodafone (VOD) to bring ultrafast broadband to up to 5m homes and businesses in the UK by 2025. The stock rallied 25.8% to 54.4p on the news.

Elsewhere, Europe's largest regional airline Flybe (FLYB) announced that adjusted pre-tax profit had plummeted 47% to £8.4m, largely caused by previously disclosed contract provisions and higher maintenance costs. The shares flied 1.4% higher to 36.7p.

Debt management business Arrow Global (ARW) was down 5.3% to 416.5p despite sales growth of 41%, driven by higher core collections and asset management income.

Motor retailer Lookers (LOOK) reassured the market that it was taken action to cope with a weaker car market. Shares in the company accelerated 1.5% to 99.5p.


Story provided by StockMarketWire.com