London Report: Housebuilders drag on FTSE 100 after near-record highs

BRITAIN’S top equity index fell yesterday for the first time in a week as declines in housebuilding shares weighed on the market, which had been approaching record highs.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which had risen for the last four sessions, ended down by 0.4 per cent, or 24.64 points, at 6,800.56 points – some two per cent below the December 1999 record high of 6,950.60 points.

Housebuilder Barratt Developments fell 2.7 per cent while rival Persimmon declined by 1.1 per cent.

The companies were hit by comments over the weekend from David Miles, seen as one of the Bank of England’s most dovish policymakers, who said it was increasingly likely he would vote to raise interest rates before leaving the BoE’s monetary policy committee next May.

The housebuilding and property sector has been one of the best-performing segments of the UK stock market. Record low interest rates and home-buying incentives pushed the FTSE 350 Construction & Building Materials Index up 23.4 per cent last year.