Housebuilders struggle ahead of report

Investors were spooked ahead of the Government's delayed report on the housing sector this week as it aims to tackle unaffordable prices and rising demand.

Housebuilders Barratt (BDEV), Taylor Wimpey (TW.) and Persimmon (PSN) fell by 1.6%.

Nurofen maker and consumer brand colossus Reckitt Benckiser (RB.) fell 1.5% on a broker downgrade from RBC Capital Markets, which dragged the blue-chip index 0.2% lower to 7,172.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil declined 0.8% to $53.39 and Brent crude oil fell by over 1% to $56.18 per barrel, respectively.

Gold gained 0.8% to $1,228 per ounce and copper advanced 0.7% to $5,798 per tonne.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones opened flat at 20,088 as technology giant Microsoft and payment tech business Visa proved a drag on the index.

The S&P 500 didn't fare any better as it nudged into the red at 2,295.

In Asian markets, the Nikkei 225, SSE Composite and Hang Seng indices closed higher.


Budget airline Ryanair (RYA) suffered some turbulence as its third quarter profit fell 8% to €95m, with higher growth in passengers numbers being offset by low air fares.

It maintained full year profit guidance of €1.3bn to &euro1.35bn. However, Ryanair warned this performance will only be achieved if there are no unforeseen security events.

EasyJet (EZJ) fared better as it managed to fill 86.2% of seats on available flights in January 2017, up from 85% a year earlier. It also carried 11% more passengers in the month.

Gold miner Randgold Resources (RRS) impressed investors with news of a 52% hike in its full year dividend. Costs in the year were lower than expected, although earnings were slightly worse than forecast by analysts.


Copper explorer Papua Mining (PML) excited investors after discovering new rock and soil samples in the Mount Visi area, which confirmed porphyry, an igneous rock.

Mobile payments provider Proxama (PROX) surged 14.7% on a five-year deal with a leading South African insurance services firm. The market was keen on the contract as Proxama said it would generate at least £690,000 over five years.

Diagnostics systems developer Genedrive (GDR) was the biggest small cap faller as the stock dived 33% to 40p after flagging poor sales in India.

North Sea-focused oil and gas operator Ithaca Energy (IAE) rallied 10.8% to 119.4p on a C$1.95 (120p) takeover approach from Israeli-listed conglomerate Delek.

Diamond producer Gem Diamonds (GEMD) could close its Ghaghoo mine in Botswana, said broker Panmure Gordon. The project struggled due to weak diamond prices with the firm expected to make an announcement regarding its future by the end of March.

The stock further continued to lose its sparkle after failing to find large special diamonds at its flagship Letseng mine in 2016, which caused an 'adverse impact' on revenue and cash flow.

AIM-listed Botswana Diamonds (BOD) entered an option and earn in agreement with Vutomi Mining and Razorbill Properties 12 to develop advanced projects in South Africa.