MONDAY MARKETS CLOSE: Builders rally

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House building stocks surged after chancellor George Osborne’s move to extend the UK government’s Help to Buy scheme until the end of the decade.

The pre-Budget announcement that another £6 billion will be invested in the equity loan part of the scheme to help an estimated 120,000 more households lifted some shares in the sector by as much as 5 per cent.

It came as the FTSE 100 Index bounced back after six straight sessions in the red to close 40.5 points up at 6568.4 - despite the prospect of escalating global tensions after Crimeans voted over the weekend to secede from Ukraine.

Analysts said the implications of the result in notching up friction between Russia and western capitals had already been factored in by markets’ steep losses in previous sessions.

Bourses in Europe were even more bullish, as Germany’s Dax and France’s Cac 40 rose more than 1 per cent.

Markets appeared relieved as the West seemed to respond with only a shot across the bows - with sanctions against certain officials rather than wider punitive measures.

Persimmon was among the leading risers in the top flight with a gain of nearly 4 per cent or 48p to 1,361p after the latest extension in taxpayer support for the property sector.

Outside the top flight, Barratt Developments improved 3 per cent, or 12.6p, to 424.8p, Taylor Wimpey rose 2.4p to 118.2p and Berkeley Group lifted 10p to 2,652p. Other building-related stocks benefited as equipment hire firm Ashtead rose 22.5p to 922.5p and Travis Perkins cheered 27p to 1,878p. The weekend’s warm weather raised hopes of a lift to seasonal sales at B&Q as owner Kingfisher rose 12.4p to 414.1p.

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