3 Min Read
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's top equity index ended slightly lower on Monday after hitting a two-week high earlier in the session, with a fall in energy and housebuilding stocks outpacing a rally in shares of precious metals miners.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE closed 0.2 percent lower at 7,172.15 points after setting an intra-day peak of 7,208.73, the highest level since January 20.
Housebuilders Taylor Wimpey (TW.L), Barratt Developments (BDEV.L) and Persimmon (PSN.L) were down 1.6 to 1.7 percent before the launch of the government's latest attempt to fix a chronic shortage of new homes..
Housing minister Gavin Barwell said on Sunday the property market was too dependent on large homebuilders. On Tuesday, the UK government will publish details of a new strategy, billed as a major shake-up of the planning and construction system.
"There are concerns that a rise in housing supply following the government's likely move could hit margins of housebuilders and force them to slow down the pace of new construction to maintain a stable supply," said Jawaid Afsar, senior trader at Securequity.
The market was also hit by a 0.5 percent fall in the UK oil and gas index .FTNMX0530 after crude prices slipped further as a stronger dollar and ample U.S. supplies outweighed OPEC output curbs and rising tensions between the United States and Iran.
Shares in Ryanair (RYA.L) fell 0.6 percent after the budget airline said average fares fell more than expected in the last three months of 2016 amid a capacity glut in Europe's short-haul market.
British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L) fell 2.1 percent.
Gold miners provided some support to the market.
Randgold Resources (RRS.L) jumped 4.2 percent, the top gainer in the FTSE 100 index, on stronger gold prices and after the reporting a 76 percent surge in its fourth-quarter profits. It said it would increase its annual dividend by 52 percent.
"This is an impressive set of figures," Fiona Cincotta, market analyst at City Index, said in a note.
"Given the heightened uncertainty in the geopolitical arena, with Trump at the helm, gold could be looking to achieve $1,300 should the safe-haven trade start to replace the Trump trade, which would serve to boost the miner further."
Fellow precious metals miner Fresnillo (FRES.L) gained 1.3 percent after gold climbed to its highest in nearly three months as worries about the political landscape in the United States and Europe reinforced investor interest.
Editing by Larry King