- The FTSE 100 lost momentum as UK growth forecasts were slashed and the Budget led to a sell-off among housebuilders.

The sector suffered from a lack of detail on planning reform and a threatened crackdown on hoarding land which included a Government threat to use compulsory purchase powers. Barratt Developments (BDEV) led its peers lower, down 3.4% to 612p.

By the close the index was up by little more than 0.1% having traded as much 0.5% higher earlier in the day. Banking firm Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fell 0.9% to 270.8p as it emerged the Government plans to begin selling off its stake by March 2019.


In the US, stock markets opened slightly higher supported by better-than-expected results including from tractor maker Deere & Co.


Travel agent Thomas Cook (TCG) said its gross margin declined by 130 basis points, driven by more competition and higher costs, particularly for holidays to Spain. The bad news overshadowed strong numbers elsewhere, causing the shares to fall 8% to 112p.

Software company Sage (SGE) advanced 1.3% to 785p on a 10% jump in full year operating profit to £475m. The software supplier said it expected organic sales to increase 8% over the next year, up from 6.6% in the year to 30 September 2017.

Utility business United Utilities (UU.) benefitted from regulatory changes, helping to drive a 10% rise in profit in the six months to 30 September. Despite the strong growth, the shares were static at 779.5p.

Defence tech firm QinetiQ (QQ.) rallied 8.7% to 219.1p on a positive broker note from Berenberg, which hiked its 'hold' recommendation to a 'buy'.

Food outlet operator SSP (SSPG) reported underlying pre-tax profit soared 38.3% to £148.7m, which was helped by the weaker pound. Shares in SSP fattened 8.5% to 658.5p.

Events and publishing business Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) announced it plans to sell its stake in Dealogic for £102m to Ion Investment and revealed decent full year results. The share price dipped 2.9% to £11.21.

UK housebuilder Countryside Properties (CSP) reported strong customer demand and favourable mortgage lending conditions, causing the shares to advance 0.7% to 342p despite the negative sentiment elsewhere in the sector.


Motor retailer Cambria Automobiles (CAMB) accelerated 3.2% to 64p after underlying profits rose in the year to 31 August despite a fall in new and used car sales.

Charles Stanley (CAY) warned that regulatory change is expected to drive costs higher, while commission income is anticipated to be lower than expected. The stockbroker services provider said it would either need a higher level of trading activity or other sales increases in the second half to meet expectations. The market overlooked higher first half pre-tax profit as the stock slumped 7.2% to 356.4p.

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