London markets close higher as housebuilders lead gains

The FTSE 100 closed marginally higher as it was buoyed by a stellar Wall Street performance and gains by housebuilders.

London’s leading index closed the day up 5.93 points at 7,220.22 points.

After a bullish start to the day, the major European stock markets made only marginal gains as optimism faded.

David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Traders in Europe were spooked by the dreadful ADP employment report in the US, and worries that Italy and the EU are about to be a loggerheads again has weighed on sentiment.

“Equity markets are still up on the week, and this move might prove to be a breather as the macroeconomic and political picture is better now than it was at the end of last week.”

The EU stated that disciplinary action is required against Italy in relation to its debt, weighing down positive sentiment towards the end of trading.

The German Dax rose by 0.08% and the French CAC jumped by 0.45%.

In the US, the Dow Jones opened higher as it continued its rally from a strong performance on Tuesday.

Sterling was pushed higher by a largely positive UK PMI services report, which beat analyst expectations, and dip in the value of the dollar.

The pound was up 0.07% to 1.270 versus the US dollar and increased 0.22% to 1.130 versus the euro.

In stocks, shares in Game Digital surged higher after Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International made a £51.9 million bid for the computer game retailer.

Sports Direct is offering 30p a share for Game under the cash bid, which was triggered after it upped its stake in the video games chain to 38.5%.

Shares in Game Digital closed up 5.5p at 29.1p.

Meanwhile, shares in Sports Direct fell marginally, down 0.8p to 293.8p, after it confirmed the bid.

Elsewhere, Non-Standard Finance (NSF) saw shares plummet after it called off its hostile £1.3 billion offer for doorstep lending rival Provident after failing to gain enough backing for the bid.

NSF shares closed down 5.5p at 41.5p on Wednesday.

Shares in Provident jumped on the news, after a number of investors in the lender publicly said they opposed the takeover attempt.

Shares in Provident rose by 71.8p to 517.8p.

Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC saw shares rise, despite suffering a stinging shareholder revolt at its AGM.

Britain’s biggest bookmaker saw shares rise by 15p to 625p.

Welcome Break owner Applegreen saw shares slide as it became the latest company to blame Brexit for a poor performance.

Shares in the petrol station business fell by 13p to 449p at the close of trading.

The price of oil slumped after the Energy Information Administration update showed that US oil stockpiles have significantly jumped.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil fell by 1.9% to 60.2 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Sage Group, up 23.8p to 757p, Associated British Foods, up 64p at 2,575p, United Utilities Group, up 20p at 807.2p, and Micro Focus, up 46.6p at 1,905.4p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hargeaves Lansdown, down 144.5p at 1,981.5p, NMC Health, down 110p at 2,260p, Johnson Mathey, down 61pat 3,135p and Rio Tinto, down 85p at 4,521p.