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London shares dip slightly as housebuilders struggle

The FTSE 100 moved 0.03%, or 2.21 points lower, to finish at 7,722.74 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
The FTSE 100 moved 0.03%, or 2.21 points lower, to finish at 7,722.74 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

London’s main markets finished marginally lower on the final full day of trading in 2023.

It came after a rocky session which saw the FTSE 100 open sharply higher, retreat and then spend the afternoon higher again before tipping downwards before the close.

The FTSE 100 moved 0.03%, or 2.21 points lower, to finish at 7,722.74.

In London, strong Boxing Day sales figures were taken as a signal for robust spending which could keep interest rates higher for longer.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Housebuilders, Barratt Developments and Berkeley Group, are on the back foot, amid signs that consumers are still showing signs of resilience in their spending patterns, in the post-Christmas sales.

“The Bank of England is showing more wariness than the Fed about the trajectory for inflation, so any sign that interest rates might stay higher for longer, in the UK, aren’t read well for the housing market.”

London was again the overperformer compared with its European peers.

The German Dax index was down 0.24% at the close and the Cac 40 closed down 0.48%.

Meanwhile, sterling dropped against the dollar after the number of US filings for unemployment claims came in hotter than expected.

The pound was down 0.52% at 1.273 US dollars and was 0.15% lower at 1.150 euro at market close in London.

In company news, a dip in energy prices dragged on Shell despite the FTSE 100 giant confirming securing a supply deal from state-owned oil company QatarEnergy to provide it with up to 18 million barrels each year.

The oil major’s agreement, through its Shell International Eastern Trading Company, will start in earnest in January.

Shell shares were down 7p at 2,549p at the close of play on Thursday.

In London’s junior Aim market, Zanaga Iron Ore shot higher after the mining firm signed an initial agreement to power its project in the Republic of Congo.

It secured a memorandum of understanding with China Machinery Engineering Corp related to hydroelectric power solutions for the project.

Shares in the company improved by 1.51p to 10.25p.

Fellow miner Corcel also leapt in value after it reported positive drilling results from its part-owned site in Angola.

It finished 0.12p higher at 0.705p at the end of the session.

Shares in telecommunications giant BT slipped after they went ex-dividend during the session.

It finished 3.15p lower at 122.95p as a result, although it remained in positive territory for the year.

The price of oil took another slight step back amid speculation shipping through the Red Sea may restart in the coming weeks, despite concerns over attacks in the region.

A barrel of Brent crude oil was down by 1.29% to 78.62 US dollars (£61.73) as markets were closing in London.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, up 10.4p to 808.4p, GSK, up 11.6p to 1,461.2p, Prudential, up 5.8p to 878.2p, Unilever, up 25p to 3,812.5p, and Rio Tinto, up 35p to 5,860p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BT, down 3.15p to 122.95p, Flutter Entertainment, down 215p to 13,840p, Beazley, down 6p to 524p, Fresnillo, down 6.6p to 590.2p, and Land Securities, down 7.2p to 716.4p.