UK stocks gave up almost all their early gains on Monday afternoon, weighed down by weakness in US markets and declines in housebuilders and financials. The FTSE 100 index fell 13 points to 7,000 compared with a 23-point gain at midday. In the US the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial indices were both down 1% with the Nasdaq falling by 1.7% as big-cap technology stocks led the sell-off. As usual concerns over trade relations with China were cited as the cause of investor caution. Housebuilders faced further selling pressure after a report from the Nationwide Building Society showed UK house prices fell at the fastest monthly pace for seven years in November. Barratt Developments gave up 2.2%, Persimmon fell 1%, while property portal Rightmove also shed 1%. Financials came under pressure in a thin day for news with Schroders down 1.5%, Standard Life Aberdeen down 0.8% and London Stock Exchange down 0.7%. Healthcare stocks, which had helped support the index during the morning session, gave up ground after midday with AstraZeneca and Shire offsetting the good work of GlaxoSmithkline and Shire earlier in the day. Industrial sectors were mostly down with aerospace losing 0.4%, chemicals 1.3%, electronic and electrical equipment 1% and general industrials 0.8%. Mining giant BHP Billiton held onto its gains, up 0.8%, after reaching an agreement with Australian authorities to settle a transfer-pricing dispute relating to its marketing operations in Singapore. Technical products supplier Diploma gained 4% on the back of a 9% rise in annual profit driven by successful acquisitions. Engineering services company Babcock International climbed 0.8% after it denied a Sky News report that it would book a £100m impairment charge at its helicopter business. Social housing and aged-care services provider Mears lost 10% on news it had agreed to acquire assets and contracts from within Mitie's property management division for £22.5m while Mitie shares gained 0.7%. Shares in banking group CYBG drifted down 2% ahead of results on Tuesday. The bank announced that chief operating officer Debbie Crosbie would be replaced on an interim basis by innovation director Fraser Ingram. German property investor Sirius Real Estate gained 3% as it posted a 43% rise in first-half profit thanks to higher rental income and favourable revaluations. Sound Energy plunged 23% on news that it had failed to establish the presence of producible gas at the first of three planned wells at the Tendrara prospect in Morocco. Advanced materials play Haydale Graphene Industries leapt 35% after inking a licence deal with TKS, one of Thailand's leading security printers, to use bespoke ink for an anti-counterfeiting product. Radiation detection technology play Kromek jumped 12% after securing a five-year $7.8m bagging screening contract with an existing customer, described as a leading company in x-ray imaging systems.
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