Help to Buy extension plan boosts builders, lifts FTSE

The FTSE 100 climbed 0.5% this morning on the back of a rally in housebuilders, which were buoyed by news that the government plans to extend the Help to Buy scheme to help buyers hit by coronavirus delays.

The UK’s blue-chip index gained 32 points, or 0.5%, to 6,137 as Berkeley Group (BKG) rose 3.4% to £46.24, Barratt Developments (BDEV) advanced 2.7% at 531p, Persimmon (PSN) climbed 2.5% to £25.25, and Taylor Wimpey (TW) gathered 2.3% at 133p.

Elsewhere, Pearson (PSON) jumped to the top of the benchmark, rising 4%, or 20p, to 532p, as the educational publisher clawed back some of yesterday’s steep decline following its first half loss.

A notable faller was high street baker Greggs (GRG), down 1.6%, or 24p, to £14.35 after swinging to a first-half loss of £65.2m versus a £36.7m profit last year.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said sales had been impacted by a lack of shoppers in the high street and people working from home. ‘Greggs will almost certainly be suffering from so many individuals continuing to work from home rather than going back to the office,’ he said. ‘There is nothing it can do to reverse this trend.’

The mid-cap FTSE 250 also made gains this morning, up 0.6%, or 107 points, at 17,265. The largest riser was Games Workshop (GAW), which climbed 5.9%, or 500p, to £89.55. The fantasy hobby shop announced another record year despite the coronavirus outbreak. Revenue rose to £269.7m in the year to 31 May, from £265.6m in 2019 and profit before tax jumped from £81.3m to £89.4m.

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Jefferies analyst Andrew Wade said ‘management continues to execute its successful strategy and we see a substantial long-term growth opportunity’.

While the latest bout of UK government stimulus went down well, City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta said Covid-19 second wave fears were not far from investors’ minds.

She said the prospect of a second wave was ‘very real’ after China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, and Spain all reported a spike in cases. Spain has already been bumped from the government’s ‘safe’ travel list and a 10-day quarantine rule imposed on those returning from the country.



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