Tuesday market close: Builders help FTSE

The benchmark FTSE 100 index hit its highest level in 14 years as house building stocks drove momentum on London’s top-flight.

House building stocks drove momentum. Picture: AP
House building stocks drove momentum. Picture: AP

Buoyant sentiment also reflected new highs on Wall Street while riskier stocks such as miners returned to favour as the index peaked at 6,877.39, setting its highest intra-day mark since January 2000.

It ended the session 21.33 points higher, at 6,873.08, its highest close since December 1999.

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Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said: “Equities are showing remarkable resilience shrugging off the geopolitics of Eastern Europe and, it would appear, banking on softer Chinese data making it a given that Beijing weighs in with another batch of stimulus to keep the slowing world number two economy growing in-line with its targets.”

In anticipation of a Chinese pick-up, miner BHP Billiton improved 17p to 1,965p and commodities conglomerate Glencore Xstrata added 1.1p to 330.6p.

The latest rally was also driven by house builders after FTSE 250 firm Taylor Wimpey said it was confident it will have met or exceeded its main financial targets by the end of next year. The builder surged by nearly 8 per cent, or 8.1p to 114.4p, while its top flight rivals Barratt and Perismmon were 12p and 44p higher at 386.3p and 1,404p respectively.

Shares in low-cost airline EasyJet lost some of their recent strength in the wake of half-year results. The stock was 72p lower at 1,658p even though the airline produced a smaller-than-expected winter loss of £53 million.

There was also a decline for Tui Travel after the Thomson and First Choice tour operator announced a slightly lower half-year operating loss of £315 million. The shares have enjoyed a strong run in recent weeks but were down by nearly 2 per cent or 7.8p to 433.8p.