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Homebuilders lift London's FTSE 100; rate hike worries limit gains

Rate hike worries weigh on FTSE 100 after strong GDP results
Rate hike worries weigh on FTSE 100 after strong GDP results   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters

By Shashank Nayar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

-London’s FTSE 100 rose on Wednesday, lifted by gains in shares of homebuilders after Barratt Developments posted strong earnings, but worries about a possible early interest rate hike by the Bank of England kept sentiment in check.

Homebuilders jumped as much as 3.9%, their biggest intraday rise since April last year, with Barratt Developments PLC up 6% after it reported sales above pre-pandemic levels and said it was on track to deliver its 2022 and medium-term targets.

“The housebuilders have found themselves in somewhat of a sweet spot,” said Laura Hoy, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“While pent-up lockdown demand is starting to wane, people are still motivated to move and that’s driven house prices higher. According to Barratt, that’s been enough to offset build cost inflation.”

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index inched up 0.2%, with personal goods makers also among the top gaining segments.

Britain’s economy returned to growth in August after contracting for the first time in six months in July, keeping intact financial market bets the Bank of England will begin raising interest rates before the end of the year.

The BoE, facing a jump in inflation, looks set to be the first major central bank to raise interest rates since the beginning of the pandemic. Investors are betting on a rise to 0.15% by December. [BOEWATCH]

The FTSE 100 has risen about 10% so far this year on accommodative central bank policies, but is still nearly 9.6% away from its all-time highs, significantly underperforming the wider European aggregate index which sits only 3% below its record levels.

The domestically focussed mid-cap index rose 1.0%, with travel and leisure stocks leading gains.

UK fund manager Man Group rose 7.6% and was the top gainer after its assets under management rose to a record $139.5 billion in the third quarter.

In volatile trade, SoftBank-backed online retailer THG dropped 2.9%, extending losses after it held a presentation on Tuesday to reassure investors it could reverse a recent slide in its share price.

Just Eat Takeaway shares declined 1.7% to the lowest since February 2019 after third-quarter orders failed to meet analyst expectations.