Market Report: Persimmon slumps amid sector nervousness

Shares in housebuilders dived yesterday on fears of fresh skeletons in upcoming trading statements. The performance of some of the biggest stocks in the business left no doubt about the extent of market nervousness regarding the prospect of more bad news from an already depressed sector.

Advice from Dresdner Kleinwort, to "abandon the sector ahead of this week's flurry of bad headlines", did not help investor sentiment as Persimmon, which will be the first to update the market tomorrow, slumped by 5.52 per cent, or 40p, to close at 685p. In the FTSE 250, Bovis, which is due to issues its update this Friday, fell by 5.76 per cent, or 33p, to close at 540p while Bellway lost almost 5 per cent, or 38p, to close at 734.5p.

Retail stocks also suffered, finding themselves stirred, shaken and pushed to the bottom of the table, as the market anticipated a visit from the ghost of the Christmas just past on the occasion of Marks & Spencer's trading statement, which is due tomorrow.

After being anointed Goldman Sach's "Christmas winner", M&S's prospects came into question in the weekend press. Predictions for like-for-like sales growth, which had hovered around +3 per cent, were reported to have been revised down to as low as -2 per cent. And while some were more charitable and pegged the numbers to come in flat, the speculation shaved almost 4 per cent off the stock as it ended the day down 19.5p at 498.5p.

M&S's sector counterpart Next lost 68p or 4.64 per cent, closing at 1,396p, while the B&Q owner Kingfisher lost 6.5p, or 5 per cent, closing at 123.5p. The three were part of the retail contingent in the table of the biggest losers on the FTSE 100. The blue-chip index shed 0.2 per cent, closing 12.8 lower at 6,335.7.

DSG International, which topped the list of fallers on the FTSE 250, closed down 6.25p, or 8.12 per cent, at 70.75p. Debenhams was just a few steps behind, coming eighth in the list, down almost 6 per cent, or 4.5p, at 71.25p.

The supermarket giant Sainsbury's, another venerable high-street name, saw its shares pulled down by news that it may have missed its internal sales and profits targets in the run-up to the crucial Christmas trading period. The company's share price dived 3.58 per cent, or 14.5p, to close at 391p.

Of the risers, British Energy swung to the top of the FTSE 100 leader board as analysts at Cazenove upgraded their estimates for the stock. The broker is reported to have changed its fair-value estimate for the shares to 730p from 660p on the back of higher long-term electricity prices, sending the share price up by 32.5p, or more than 6 per cent, to 571p.

Defensive stocks from the drug sector joined British Energy. GlaxoSmithKline rose by 3.53 per cent, or 45p, to close at 1,321p, the second highest riser on the 100 index yesterday, while AstraZeneca climbed 60p, or 2.84 per cent, to 2,170p, making it the fourth-best performing stock on the FTSE 100.

Scottish and Southern was another winner. The company's share price rose by more than 2 per cent, or 33p, to close at 1,668p as Credit Suisse said that its acquisition of the wind developer Airtricity made "solid strategic sense". While noting that the deal would bring more business and credit risk, the broker said that it would provide the company with new growth opportunities in international markets such as China.

Of the small caps, GCap Media saw its shares climb as the company confirmed that it had rejected a 300m-plus takeover bid from Global Radio. The rebuff propelled the commercial radio operator to the top end of the table of risers, with its shares jumping 45.45 per cent, or 55p, to close at 176p.

Huddersfield-based Marshalls saw its shares rise on the back of an upbeat trading statement. The company said that the public sector and commercial market, both important sales generators, had improved, sending its share price up by 17.5p or 6.4 per cent, to 254.25p.

And finally, after delaying its debut last month, Lifeline Scientific started trading on AIM. The specialist medical technology company raised 5.4m at a price of 150p per share. The company is focused on the Lifeport Kidney Transporter, a device which, Lifeline claims, improves the utilisation of donated kidneys and increases the organ recovery rate. By the day's close, the company shares had edged up slightly to close at 151.5p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss