A sea of red in the property sector pushed the Footsie to its lowest close since April.
Hints from the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, that interest rates could rise sooner than expected led to City concern over what the implications might be for property. Investors fear that rising rates could curtail the boom in mortgage lending, with knock-on effects for the whole industry.
Any business connected to property suffered. The housebuilders Persimmon and Barratt were off 91p at 1,211p and 23.3p at 346.3p respectively; the commercial developer Land Securities was 47p lower at 1,028p; the estate agency Foxtons lost 15.6p to 297p; and the building supplies specialist CRH fell 48p to 1,659p.
The FTSE 100 lost 65.26 points to 6,777.85.
Bwin.party fell 8.4p to 105.6p and 888 Holdings lost 7.5p to 117.5p on news of a surprise mega-merger in the online gaming sector. Canada’s Amaya is paying $4.9bn (£2.9bn) for the Isle of Man-based Oldford Group, which operates the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands. Analysts think the move will allow PokerStars to enter the US, where it has been barred – a serious blow for rivals.
At the other end of the index, Petra Diamonds was 12.9p better at 180p. The South Africa-focused miner was buoyed by the discovery of a rare 122.5-carat blue diamond, which should fetch millions at auction.
Johnston Press revealed that its rights issue had a 92.25 per cent take-up rate, with 4.2 billion shares sold at 3p each. The small-cap publisher was down 0.38p at 3.75p.
Asos slipped 160p to 2,919p after Morgan Stanley cut its profit forecast for the online retailer by 30 per cent in light of its recent profit warning.
The African oil and gas explorer Tower Resources collapsed 1.92p to 0.97p on Aim after admitting that one of its offshore wells in Namibia has come up dry. To make matters worse, the drill was behind schedule, meaning costs will be 10 per cent higher that forecast.
The chairman of the Freemason insignia maker Toye & Co launched a buyout bid for the company after building up a 53.2 per cent stake. Bryan Toye’s bid will be at 35p a share. Toye slipped 10p to 40p.