Source - SMW
Housebuilders rallied thanks to encouraging results from Bellway (BWY), which had a positive read-across for blue-chip firms in the same sector.

Taylor Wimpey (TW.) and Barratt Developments (BDEV) led the pack higher with 2% and 2.3% gains to 181.9p and 589p, respectively.

UK unemployment stood at 4.6% - equivalent to 1.53 million people, which was down from 5% a year ago according to the Office for National Statistics.

While this data was the lowest since 1975, there were concerns as average pay fell by 0.6% in real terms in the three months to April as prices continued to rise.

Brent crude oil slipped 0.7% to $48.35 per barrel.

Gold and copper were stable at $1,267 per ounce and $5,710 per tonne. 

OVERSEAS MARKETS

A recovery in tech stocks and an expected interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve helped the S&P 500 close 0.4% up at 2,440 on Tuesday.

In Asia, investors were less positive as China's SSE Composite declined 0.7% to 3,130 on Wednesday. Other markets in Japan and Hong Kong were flat.

FTSE 100 RISERS AND FALLERS

In corporate news, cigarette seller British American Tobacco (BATS) failed to make a splash at £54.66 after announcing it expected profit growth to be weighted in the second half of the year. The company said this was due to the phasing of volume shipments, product investments and marketing spend.

BHP Billiton's (BLT) dispute with activist shareholder Elliot Management continued as the shareholder called for an 'upgrade' of its board of directors. BHP also said it was in the process of electing a new chairman. The stock remained broadly unmoved at £12.03.

In the financial sector, banking giant Standard Chartered (STAN) said it wanted to expand its US presence. Observers speculated this could be part of a plan to ensure it maintains euro clearing powers that might move away from the UK after it leaves the EU.

FTSE 250 RISERS AND FALLERS

The travel business continued to drive book seller WH Smith (SMWH) forward, helping to balance declining sales on the high street. In the 15 weeks to 10 June, group sales were up 2% but like-for-like sales were flat. Shares in the firm nudge 2% higher to £17.79.

Housebuilder Bellway reported a robust trading performance as demand did not slow in the run up to the snap UK general election on 8 June. The stock advanced 4.4% to £29.75.

Elsewhere, next-generation estate agency Purplebricks (PURP) clarified it would target California for its US launch thanks to 'strong housing and economic fundamentals. The market was already aware of the planned US launch as the stock remained flat at 408p.

Power generator supplier Aggreko (AGK) acquired Indonesia-based power rental firm KBT for $32.8m, helping the stock to tick 3% higher to 915.5p.

SMALL CAP RISERS AND FALLERS

Investors ran for the exits at Entu (ENTU) after it announced that losses before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the first half of the year was anticipated to widen to £2.2m to £2.4m. Shares in the double glazing firm plummeted 28.2% to 19.2p.

Things were going better over at marketing services company St Ives (SIV). The stock rallied 34% to 50.2p following a stronger than expected trading performance despite challenging conditions.

European budget airline Ryanair (RYA) failed to take off at €18.29 despite media speculation it was in talks with Boeing for its proposed new 737 MAX 10 airliner.

Investors toasted a new contract win at WANdisco (WAND), triggering a 10.9% boost in the share price to 510p. The deal was with a major American multinational retailer and valued at $2m.

Fosun Gold approached Gemfields (GEM) concerning a potential takeover with a possible price of 40.85p per share, but the share price advanced only 2% to 96p.

On the AIM market, Gym Group (GYM) and Mulberry (MUL) provided mixed updates.

Fitness centre operator Gym Group was on track to open half a dozen gyms in the first half of this year, helping the stock to accelerate 1% to 196.2p.

Handbags designer Mulberry benefitted from a 21% jump in pre-tax profit, but investors were worried about lower sales, which pushed the stock 2.6% lower to £11.19.