Though London's FTSE 100 is around 20 points lower at 6,800 early on, housebuilders are among the main risers, buoyed by indicators suggesting Brexit fears continue to be shrugged off by consumers.
The Nationwide House Price Index rose by 0.6% in August, taking the annual growth rate in property prices to 5.6%, and the average house price to £206,145. Also providing a boost is the GfK Consumer Confidence Index, which rose 5 points in August. While the reading is still negative (-7), it is showing a marked improvement on its July reading of -12.
Encouraged by these data points, investors bid Berkeley (BKG) up 35p to £26.30, Bovis Homes (BVS) bounces 10p higher to 892.5p, Bellway (BWY) adds 10p at £23.28, Barratt Developments (BDEV) rises 1.2p to 493.1p and Taylor Wimpey (TW.) trades 0.2p higher at 160.8p.
Elsewhere, self-propelled self-elevating support vessels provider Gulf Marine Services (GMS) surges 11.8% higher to 47.5p on solid interims showing a 20% profits rise to US$41.9 million. Despite tough conditions in the oil, gas and renewable energy sectors, Gulf Marine also reassures by maintaining its full-year EBITDA guidance of $100-110 million.
Investors are disappointed with weaker trading in the UK and flat like-for-like sales across PPHE’s (PPH) hotels business, sending the shares down 9.3% to 733p. Stockbroker FinnCap subsequently downgrades its earnings forecasts to reflect a more cautious view on opening schedules for new UK hotels.
Online gambling group 888 (888) impresses with a 39% increase in half year pre-tax profit to $27.8 million. Casino has been the real strong point with a 35% rise in active players during the second quarter of year. Its shares rise 4.2% to 224p.
Gym Group (GYM) gives back some of yesterday’s 13% rally after rubbishing press reports that it was about to buy 70 gyms from Fitness First. The company told Shares that it is in the market to buy existing gyms but categorically stated that the Daily Mail’s story was incorrect.
Mobile advertising platform Taptica (TAP:AIM) storms 26.2% higher to 161.5p on stellar interim results showing significant increases in sales and margins and including news the company will pay a $3.5 million special dividend. CEO Hagai Tal says the positive momentum achieved in the first six months of the year has been sustained into the second half and remains confident of meeting recently upgraded full-year forecasts.
Ceramics maker Churchill China (CHH:AIM) clips ahead 2.5% to 815p on strong interims showing a 29% surge in taxable profits to £2 million with the hospitality business reporting record revenues once more. The cash-generative company also pleases by hiking the half-time payout 12.5% to 6.3p per share.
Punch Taverns (PUB) says the average profit per pub across its entire estate has gone up by approximately 4%, its retail division is operating ahead of expectations and expansion plans will be accelerated. This news helps to drive up the shares by 2.7% to 97.83p.
Carclo (CAR) dives 14% to 135p after warning that lower corporate bond yields in the UK could result in a significant increase in its pension deficit – to the extent that it wouldn’t be able to pay a dividend declared in June.