Market Report: Housebuilders were in demand yesterday, boosted by news that the number of new homes is growing.

 

The Home Builders Federation announced a  12 per cent jump in residential planning permissions in the first quarter, another piece of good news to boost the sector.

Barratt climbed 9.3p to 375.9p and Persimmon was ahead 15p to 1311p, while Crest Nicholson added 11p to 345.8p and Taylor Wimpey was 1.6p  up at 113.5p.

NBNK Investments was in demand, up 1.5p at 39.5p. Speculators are excited by the prospect that some of the cash lost in the failed auction of Lloyds’ branches in 2011 could be recovered. NBNK lost out to the  Co-op Bank in the abortive auction of 630 Lloyds branches. These are now set for a £1bn float as TSB, after the sale fell through.

Activist investor Crystal Amber Fund has been building a stake in NBNK, last week passing 17 per cent, and is thought to be pressing management to recover funds lost in the botched sale process, which valued the branches at £750m. Legal action is being considered. Crystal Amber, flat at 150.75p, also disclosed it had built a 3.1 per cent stake in Johnston Press, down 0.03p to 3.9p, but is not thought to be planning to agitate.

The FTSE 100 inched closer to record highs, closing up 16.79 at 6,875.

After falling out of favour last week, precious metal miners recovered as gold prices edged higher. Fresnillo climbed 8.5p to 784p, Randgold Resources added 24p to 4380p and African Barrick Gold was 8.3p up at 224.1p.

Online fashion retailer Asos continued to slide after last week’s profit warning, down 150p to 3200p. Liberum slashed its target price forecast from £33.50 to £14.40, arguing the costs of keeping its demanding customer base happy will be too much in the long run.

Bellzone Mining, flat at 2.95p, revealed that as a result of its announced placing, China Sonangol has built up a 29.9 per cent stake. China Sonangol had been mulling a bid for the whole outfit. Leni Gas & Oil continued its stellar run on Aim, climbing 0.66p to 3.69p after finding a large oil reserve at the second of its planned 30 wells in Trinidad.

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