Property

Spanish construction rebuilds after market collapse

Property developer Olivier Crambade founded Therus Invest in Madrid in 2004 to build offices and retail space. For five years business went quite well, and Therus developed and sold more than €300m of properties. Then Spain’s economy imploded, taking property with it, and Mr Crambade spent six years tending to Dhamma Energy, a solar energy […]

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Currencies

Euro suffers worst month against the pound since financial crisis

Political risks are still all the rage in the currency markets. The euro has suffered its worst slump against the pound since 2009 in November, as investors hone in on a series of looming battles between eurosceptic populists and establishment parties at the ballot box. The single currency has shed 4.5 per cent against sterling […]

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Banks

RBS falls 2% after failing BoE stress test

Royal Bank of Scotland shares have slipped 2 per cent in early trading this morning, after the state-controlled lender emerged as the biggest loser in the Bank of England’s latest round of annual stress tests. The lender has now given regulators a plan to bulk up its capital levels by cutting costs and selling assets, […]

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Currencies

China capital curbs reflect buyer’s remorse over market reforms

Last year the reformist head of China’s central bank convinced his Communist party bosses to give market forces a bigger say in setting the renminbi’s daily “reference rate” against the US dollar. In return, Zhou Xiaochuan assured his more conservative party colleagues that the redback would finally secure coveted recognition as an official reserve currency […]

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Banks

Carney: UK is ‘investment banker for Europe’

The governor of the Bank of England has repeated his calls for a “smooth and orderly” UK exit from the EU, saying that a transition out of the bloc will happen, it was just a case of “when and how”. Responding to the BoE’s latest bank stress tests, where lenders overall emerged with more resilient […]

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Archive | November, 2016

Economic Outlook: Host of manufacturing data out

Posted on 30 June 2013 by

A host of manufacturing sentiment data out this week will give a comprehensive picture of global demand levels. Figures for Brazil, China, the eurozone, France, Germany, India, Russia and the US are published on Monday.

And Asian countries’ export data will give a further indication of industrial production, which has been fairly flat for the past couple of years. This will also give a useful perspective on the state of current global demand.

    The US labour market report on Friday will also be vital for markets, as it could fuel sentiment over the imminency of the quantitative easing wind-down. The US Federal Reserve has made it clear that its withdrawal from QE depends on unemployment, targeting specifically 6.5 to 7 per cent.

    Tuesday’s IBD/TIPP economic optimism survey will be watched for signs of softening, as other indices sit close to 2007 highs.

    The figures will feed into decision-making for several central banks, which meet to make interest rate decisions this week.

    The European Central Bank on Thursday is not likely to change its rate policy, as recent indicators have suggested that European economies are stabilising. Detailed PMI data for the eurozone periphery will be watched for signs that they too are reaching a more steady state.

    But the challenge of boosting business lending remains. The ECB is still considering measures to boost finance for small and medium-sized enterprises but it has backed away from large-scale intervention and action is not necessarily imminent.

    Bad news for Europe may come this week in the form of unemployment, which could rise further from its current record high of 12.2 per cent. Several member states have reported increases recently.

    In Germany, a rebound in new orders this month would further add to the increasing air of optimism which defies the gloom still swathing the rest of the continent.

    The UK will see Mark Carney’s first monetary policy committee meeting as the new governor of the Bank of England on Thursday.

    Manufacturing, services and construction PMIs will all contribute to the MPC’s discussion. But the Bank of England is not expected to publish information on its new targets and unconventional monetary policy approaches under Mr Carney until August.

    Madhur Jha, of HSBC, says: “It is possible the MPC will issue a statement with some soothing words aimed at reminding markets that active monetary tightening remains a long way off. This would signal a more communicative MPC in future.”

    MPC members voted against further monetary action at their June meeting, and so a policy change is not immediately likely, particularly as recent data have strengthened views that the economy has entered a recovery phase. Last week’s positive services sector performance gave cause for hope of strong second-quarter GDP – services have been a major contributor to the UK economy in recent months.

    The growing housing market recovery may contribute to data on mortgage approvals, consumer credit, secured lending and house prices, due out on Monday.

    On Wednesday, the Bank of England’s credit conditions survey will be watched for signs of improvement in lending to small businesses.

    The Reserve Bank of Australia’s policy meeting on Tuesday will be affected by Chinese manufacturing PMI data out on Monday. A drop-off in Chinese sentiment could cut raw materials demand in Australia.

    Barclay brothers sued over privacy breach

    Posted on 29 June 2013 by

    Irish property developer Patrick McKillen is suing the Barclay brothers in the US, accusing them of unlawfully procuring a private credit report about his affairs, in the latest twist in a €1bn legal battle over ownership of three exclusive London hotels.

    He claims Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, British twins who own the Ritz Hotel and Telegraph newspaper, used the credit report to exert financial pressure on him to try to force him to abandon his separate litigation related to the hotels.

      Legal papers filed in the US District Court central district of California show Mr McKillen alleges a security company secretly obtained his social security number and the legally protected credit report on behalf of the publicity-shy Barclay brothers without proper legal permission.

      That action was a wilful violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and an invasion of privacy, it is alleged in the lawsuit, which also cites other defendants.

      Mr McKillen alleges the Barclays tried to “gain litigation and business advantage over him, and with the ultimate goal of intimidating him and harassing him,” the papers said.

      Mr McKillen sued the Barclay twins in the UK about future ownership of Coroin, a company that controls Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotel – three of London’s most prestigious hotels.

      In the UK case, Mr McKillen alleged Barclays infringed his “pre-emption rights” to have first refusal on stakes in Coroin.

      His claim was successfully defended by the Barclays and their companies.

      Mr Justice David Richards held there was no breach of “pre-emption rights” and the twins and their companies acted lawfully. A spokesman said it should not have been necessary for them to defend the “baseless proceedings”.

      Mr McKillen awaits a Court of Appeal ruling in this case, heard in February.

      There are other legal cases pending in Ireland linked to the legal battle over Coroin, including one taken by Mr McKillen against Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency – the bad bank set up to strip toxic property loans from Ireland’s banks.

      Mr McKillen alleges Nama provided confidential information about loans to a representative of the Barclays in breach of the Nama Act and his right to privacy. Nama has said it will “vigorously defend” the claims.

      The Barclays are not a party to those proceedings.

      The spokesman for the Barclay brothers said: “This is the first we’ve heard of [it].

      “We’ll look into it once we’ve received it – but until then we can’t comment … ”

      Latest bid for Empire State Building tops $2.1bn

      Posted on 28 June 2013 by

      New York’s Empire State Building is at the centre of a bidding tussle after the owner of London’s Burlington Arcade made a cash offer of more than $2.1bn.

      The takeover proposal for the Manhattan skyscraper by New York property magnate Joseph Sitt is the third bid in two weeks, which could disrupt plans by Malkin Holdings, the controller of the building, for an initial public offering.

        Mr Sitt, the founder and chief executive of Thor Equities, made an offer “north of $2.1bn in cash”, according to Jason Meister, a broker at Avison Young. Mr Meister submitted the proposal to Malkin on Thursday.

        Malkin plans to transfer the property into a real estate investment trust before floating it on the New York Stock Exchange. The Empire State Realty Trust seeks to bring together the skyscraper and other New York-area properties.

        Malkin hopes to raise $1bn from its IPO, the second-largest amount by a US Reit, according to data provider Dealogic. The Empire State Building alone is valued at $2.5bn, including debt, according to filings.

        Malkin disclosed in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it was reviewing two unsolicited bids. A spokesperson said they had no additional comment.

        Any sale would need consent from the estate of Leona Helmsley, the hotel heiress and the skyscraper’s largest stakeholder, as well as Malkin – both of which have firmly set their sights on the IPO. Such a transaction would also have to be approved by a majority of shareholders.

        Cammeby’s International, which is run by Rubin Schron, a New York property investor who owns a partial stake in Manhattan’s Woolworth Building, made the first offer on June 18, seeking to buy the building for $2bn in cash. Mr Schron also made a bid through Mr Meister.

        People familiar with the matter said the second offer of $2.1bn came from a group of Middle Eastern and European investors who worked with Princeton Holdings and Philips International.

        “There is a lot of room to further expand the usage of the building. It has a wealth of untapped potential,” said Michael Pilevsky, co-president at Philips.

        Thor, one of New York City’s largest landlords, acquired the Burlington Arcade in London for £104m in 2010. The property, in London’s West End, was built in 1819 and was the city’s first covered shopping street. Thor declined to comment.

        The bids have come after a year of clashes between Malkin and a cluster of dissident stakeholders, who were reluctant to give up owning part of a building that was once the tallest in the world.

        In the ensuing battle, Malkin received approvals from investors representing more than the required 80 per cent of the 3,300 Empire State Building units, allowing the IPO to move forward.

        London trophy homes up 60% since 2009

        Posted on 28 June 2013 by

        Prices of expensive central London homes are now almost 60 per cent higher than the market low of March 2009, as demand for trophy homes in the capital shows no signs of weakening.

        Average prices for prime central London property rose 0.4 per cent in June, leaving values up nearly 4 per cent in the year to date, according to new data from Knight Frank, the estate agent.

          Over the past 12 months, prime prices increased 6.9 per cent in the capital, a growth of 58.6 per cent since March 2009.

          The biggest growth has occurred at the lower end of the market, with properties under £1m rising in value by 6.6 per cent in the year to date, and 12.1 per cent over the past year.

          In comparison, prices of properties between £1m and £2.5m have grown 5.4 per cent in 2013, and 8.5 per cent over 12 months. Super-prime homes – those valued at more than £10m – have experienced the lowest growth, rising 1.5 per cent in 2013 and 4.5 per cent over the past year.

          The growth comes despite predictions by four of the large high-end estate agents of zero-growth in 2013 because of the impact of stamp duty measures introduced in last year’s Budget.

          “The higher stamp duty charge for £2m-plus properties, introduced at last year’s budget, remains a key driver behind stronger growth from the lower price brackets,” said Liam Bailey, global head of residential research at Knight Frank.

          Bonds suffer worst first half since 1994

          Posted on 28 June 2013 by

          US fixed income investors have suffered their worst first half of a year since the great bear market of 1994 with the Federal Reserve looking to step back from its open ended support of asset prices.

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          The Barclays US Aggregate Index, the investment benchmark for fixed income managers, has registered a total return of minus 2.55 per cent since January, on pace for its worst showing since the first six months of 1994.

            With the central bank tying any reduction in its quantitative easing policy to a stronger economy, investors face a volatile summer establishing the correct asset allocation decision between equities and bonds.

            The issue boils down to whether the recent sell-off in bonds represents a buying opportunity as yields, which move inversely to prices, now look more attractive against the current backdrop of low inflation and modest economic growth.

            Or is the Fed foreshadowing a recovery that requires less monetary easing and which over time favours owning economic sensitive sectors of the equity market, rather than bonds and high dividend paying and defensive stocks.

            “The back-up in rates seems appropriate given the change in the Fed’s guidance about when it may reduce its bond purchases,” said Jay Mueller, portfolio manager at Wells Fargo. “Whether asset allocation shifts occur remains to be seen. Bond investors can reinvest future earnings at higher yields.”

            The hefty sell-off in US government bonds since the start of May has resulted in the 10-year benchmark yield rising to 2.5 per cent, effectively unwinding the central bank’s efforts at suppressing interest rates since the summer of 2011.

            The Barclays Treasury index has registered a total return of minus 2 per cent since the start of April, its worst performance since the final quarter of 2010.

            An index of long-dated Treasury bonds has fallen 6.5 per cent and is down more than 9 per cent for the year, the weakest start to a year since 2009.

            Some see opportunity. Stephen Walsh, chief investment officer for Western Asset Management, says expectations for rises in short-term US interest rates have run too far, at one point implying that the Fed would raise short-term rates to 1.1 per cent by March 2015 and still factoring in a rise to 85 basis points.

            “We have started to build positions at the front end of the market,” said Mr Walsh. “The rate decision is still a 2015 issue that markets will have to deal with and not something that will come sooner.”

            Meanwhile, the rapid upward shift in the benchmark yield for fixed income assets has registered acutely for holders of corporate debt.

            US investment grade rated corporate bonds are nursing a quarterly slide of 3.5 per cent and facing its worst start to a year since the bond rout of 1994, according to a Barclays index.

            Yields for junk bonds have risen some 200 basis points towards 7 per cent since May, effectively wiping out its gains for the year, which were around 6 per cent just over a month ago.

            Interactive

            Bullish bonds

            Examine the state of the bond market and whether the bull run is sustainable

            As a volatile and bruising second quarter draws to a close, the big issue facing institutional money managers is whether the hefty outflow of money from bond and emerging market funds continues into July and finds its way into equities.

            But the rapid rise in bond yields over the past six weeks has dulled the performance of equities.

            When the S&P 500 closed at a record high of 1,669.16 on May 21, it was up 6.4 per cent for the quarter, a gain that is now less than 2.5 per cent with the benchmark ending June around 1,606.

            Hurting equities has been the poor performance of high dividend paying stocks, deemed as bond substitutes and highly popular among investors seeking income.

            Globally, the FTSE All World index is heading for a quarterly loss of 0.9 per cent with the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index down 3.1 per cent and London’s FTSE 100 also lower by 3.1 per cent.

            Shares in China have slumped 11.5 per cent for the quarter with Brazil dropping 16 per cent, underscoring how badly emerging markets have performed.

            Peter Fisher, senior director of the BlackRock Investment Institute, says defensive sectors of the stock market buoyed by the search for yield still look expensive but relative to bonds he says “we still believe equities are the more attractively priced on the medium to long term”.

            Package of perils is a sound investment

            Posted on 28 June 2013 by

            The iconic Princess Cottage, built in 1855, remains standing after being ravaged by flooding on November 21, 2012 in Union Beach, New Jersey©Getty

            Bonds whose value is a bet against natural catastrophes are reaching a record level of issuance

            In a post-hurricane Sandy and post-central bank tightening world, you would think that bonds whose value is a bet against natural disasters and on US Treasuries would be crashing in price and liquidity.

            But you would be wrong. The cat, that is “cat” as in “catastrophe”, bond market, a $17bn niche of the fixed income world, is reaching a record level of issuance in the first half of 2013.

            Even with Sandy and Midwest tornadoes, the secondary market spreads on “US wind” cat bonds, which incorporate the pricing of reinsurance for hurricane risk, have declined 35 per cent from a year ago. And this year’s hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, appears likely to be a busy one.

            Cat bonds, which reinsurers sell to investors outside their industry, have an average maturity of three years, though there have been some issues that have gone out as long as five years. The buyer accepts a package of “perils” such as US wind, Japanese earthquakes, or US tornado, wind and hail.

            Cat bonds are all rated as junk risk, but that’s insurance underwriting risk, not credit risk. The one thing most investors want to be right now is “uncorrelated”, a quality that does not hold up for most asset classes in a bad market.

              But realised losses in cat bonds, as distinct from mark-to-market price declines, do not move with the credit and interest rate cycles. This does not mean that you can’t lose; you can lose most or all your principal if, say, a hurricane hits Miami at the same time as earthquakes in Tokyo and California.

              Until Lehman hit the wall, cat bond buyers were willing to take on counterparty credit risk in addition to their risk of loss from natural disasters. Now cat bonds are collateralised by cash deposited in money market funds backed by US Treasuries. (There are some euro-denominated cat bonds, but Europe does not have as much of a market for catastrophe reinsurance.)

              The bonds are priced by their rate spreads over that highly liquid collateral, and those have ground down pretty relentlessly since 2008.

              At the moment, the double B part of the Swiss Re Global Cat Bond index has a weighted average spread over those short-term Treasuries of about 4.25 per cent, compared with a spread for comparable credit junk of about 3.5 per cent.

              Single B cat bonds trade at about 7.75 per cent over the collateral, compared with single B credit junk spreads of about 4.75 per cent. There is an “expected loss” of about 2 per cent for cat bonds; an investor’s actual experience is most likely to approximate that if they have a diversified portfolio.

              At those yields, these days, there are a fair number of portfolio managers who are willing to overlook the possibility of a vast dust cloud over Los Angeles, or all those little cocktail parasols washing out in the direction of the Bahamas.

              Most of the investor base is composed of specialised hedge funds with underwriting experts on board. Particularly in the past year, though, non-specialist portfolio managers have taken a rapidly increasing share of cat bond placements.

              In most corporate settings, the person in the room who is always thinking of the worst possible outcome is generally avoided until they wind up resigning for personal reasons. I like the insurance world because every doom-laden word you say just cheers them up a bit more.

              The best sort of world for insurance, of course, is one that is getting worse at a rate that can be predicted by models that have proven their reliability.

              Some might assume that the International Panel on Climate Change models would be just the thing for those who insure the insurers against tropical-storm risk. Yet, when you bring up the IPCC, their eyes tend to glaze and wander ever so slightly.

              As Megan Linkin, a meteorologist and natural hazards expert for Swiss Re, says, “We like to stay up to date with the IPCC, but to date we have not explicitly included any of their conclusions in our internal models. In fairness, they take a view that is in some cases a century from now, and we operate on a one- to three-year schedule.”

              Most modest-sized junk asset markets have high transaction costs, but cat bonds are sold with a one-point margin for the “sponsor”, or reinsurer-seller, and they’ll buy and sell $5m lots in the secondary market for a 20 basis point bid/ask spread. Seen worse.

              Before even a professional investor gets hooked by the spreads and the non-correlation, they should have an idea what they don’t know about insurance. Having said that, it’s an interesting market.

              john.dizard@ft.com

              Surveyor shortage frustrates homebuyers

              Posted on 28 June 2013 by

              Homebuyers in London and the South East are complaining of long delays to their home purchases because of a shortage of surveyors valuing properties – a hangover from the last property crash.

              With transactions increasing, and mortgage lending at its highest level since 2008, the upturn in activity has resulted in some buyers being told they will have to wait nearly two months before a surveyor is able to come and value a property.

                Estate agents in the capital complain that other buyers are experiencing delays of two to four weeks. Normally a valuation will take place around a week after the mortgage lender has instructed the surveying firm.

                Experts say these delays are due to the shortage of residential surveyors, an industry that suffered widespread job losses during the downturn as property transactions dried up.

                “The crash of 2008 took many surveyors out of the market entirely, as an ageing workforce took the opportunity to retire or diversify,” said Alan Milstein, chairman of the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). “As housing transactions begin to climb we now face a new challenge, as demand for surveyors looks set to outstrip supply.”

                Surveyors say the problem is largely confined to London and the South East, but there is evidence that other areas in the M4 corridor are being impacted too.

                “The industry was the right size for the amount of lending last year, but it will take some time to catch up to the increase in activity,” said Richard Sexton, business development director at Esurv, a surveying company.

                Raffaella Fantin, a banker who is buying her first family home in Sutton, Surrey, had a valuation instructed on June 8 but the first available date given to her by Colleys, the surveying firm, was not until August 1, almost two months later. Following complaints from her mortgage broker, the survey has just been brought forward to next week.

                “It’s worrying me because the vendor can turn around and say they are not willing to wait that long,” said Ms Fantin.

                Colleys admitted it is suffering from delays, but said it was completing 70 per cent of all valuations within seven days and was recruiting additional surveyors to manage higher transaction volumes.

                However, some in the industry say the problem is not down to a shortage of surveyors but the working conditions they now face. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which estimates there are 8,500 residential valuers in the UK, said that since the crash, surveyors have seen large numbers of “unsubstantiated” negligence claims by banks. This has pushed up professional indemnity costs for many valuers, and lenders have also cut the amount they pay for valuations in recent years.

                Graham Ellis, associate director at Rics, said: “Quite simply, there are enough valuers but doing the job isn’t always worth their while and many are now exiting the market.”

                One problem is the lack of young graduates training to become surveyors. In March, a study of over 11,000 13 to 16-year olds found that surveying was one of the 10 least popular jobs, with teens preferring professions such as law, medicine and psychology.

                The RPSA said it is developing a new qualification that could add 20 to 25 per cent to the total residential surveying workforce.

                Additional reporting by Natalia Drozdiak

                French minister in new attack on Barroso

                Posted on 28 June 2013 by

                French minister for Trade Nicole Bricq answers journalists during a press conference©AFP

                French trade minister Nicole Bricq says Barroso has ‘done nothing during his term’

                Efforts by Paris and Brussels to cool a feud between their leaders were undermined when a French minister attacked the head of the European Commission as the wrong choice for the job.

                Nicole Bricq, France’s trade minister, said in a television interview that José Manuel Barroso, the president of the EU’s executive arm, had “done nothing during his term”.

                  Ms Bricq also suggested that Mr Barroso’s reappointment in 2009 had been a mistake, saying: “I believe that the choice taken . . . four years ago was not necessarily good.”

                  The comments reignited a week-long war of words between France’s Socialist government and Mr Barroso, a centre-right former prime minister of Portugal, that has served as an unusually public example of the tensions among EU leaders, exacerbated by the euro crisis.

                  Coming after efforts at a two-day EU summit in Brussels by both Mr Barroso and François Hollande, the French president, to play down any personal tensions between them, the comments caused a behind the scenes scramble to gauge whether Ms Bricq’s outburst was an intentional continuation of the anti-Barroso campaign or a misfire by an out-of-sync minister.

                  A French official suggested that Ms Bricq was a “lone wolf”. But an EU diplomat argued that the episode still reflected poorly on Paris.

                  “This continuing spat with the commission is bizarre,” the diplomat said. “Either the Elysée is not in control of its ministers and the party – or this is a diversion to distract from the difficulties they have in implementing the badly needed reforms.”

                  Asked about the comments at a post-summit news conference, Mr Barroso grew testy. “There are some comments that deserve no comment,” he said. The commission president added: “While some people were making comments I was working with every [EU] head of government to deliver growth and jobs.”

                  Earlier in the week, Arnaud Montebourg, France’s leftwing industry minister, blamed Mr Barroso for the rise of the country’s far-right political groups, calling him “the fuel of the National Front”.

                  Mr Montebourg had taken umbrage at a newspaper interview where the commission president appeared to criticise the French government as “reactionary” for opposing elements of a proposed trade adeal with the US to protect their film industry from Hollywood competition.

                  The latest salvo came just as Mr Hollande was straining to contain the feud by depersonalising it.

                  “It is not a matter of individuals – it is a matter of policies,” Mr Hollande told journalists in his post-summit press conference.

                  The French president later added: “We may sometimes have a discussion, a dialogue, we can defend our point of view. But at some point in time we have to work together.”

                  The commission has long served as a convenient whipping boy for national governments trying to shift blame on to bureaucrats in Brussels and Mr Hollande’s job approval numbers are near historic lows.

                  Commission officials acknowledged that it risks becoming an even bigger target after gaining new powers, as a result of the euro crisis, to scrutinise member states’ budgets and economic policies.

                  A senior commission official said while Mr Barroso did not raise his concerns directly with Mr Hollande at the summit, he has previously warned French politicians that criticising the commission only benefits populist parties such as the National Front by increasing anti-EU sentiment nationwide.

                  “It’s negative for the countries who make this point,” the official said. “It’s like in a company: If you project a negative image, your shares lose value.”

                  Additional reporting by James Fontanella-Khan in Brussels

                  Serco tops FTSE 100 on broker acclaim

                  Posted on 28 June 2013 by

                  Serco topped the FTSE 100 leader board after attracting bullish broker acclaim for outperforming its revenue targets. but a broadly weak London market broke its longest run of monthly gains since the mid-1990s.

                  The outsourcing group rose 2.7 per cent to 616.5p after it said in a trading statement that it was well on track to meet growth targets for 2013, having outperformed its own expectations in the first half.

                    “The statement is reassuring and reiterates the group’s confidence in the ongoing resilience, overall outlook and future growth prospects for the business,” said Killik & Co.

                    It noted the group’s shares were trading at 12.5 times 2014 consensus earnings, which was below its industy peer group.

                    “It’s a level that doesn’t take into account the group’s excellent revenue visibility, long-term growth opportunities and market-leading position – we would use the recent equity market weakness as a buying opportunity,” Killik added.

                    Raising its 12-month target price to 864p from 820p, S&P Capital IQ analyst Clive Roberts cited “a record level of contract awards in 2012 and additional revenue from volume-related and project-based work”.

                    The final trading day of the second quarter started positively and the FTSE 100 looked to be heading for one of its biggest weekly advances of the year.

                    But gains were pared as resource stocks in particular came under pressure from mixed economic data from Europe and the US.

                    The FTSE 100 closed 27.93 points weaker, or down 0.5 per cent, to 6,215.47. This capped weekly gains at 1.6 per cent – still the best five-day performance for nine weeks.

                    The intraday low for the week on Monday was 6,023.44, its lowest reading of the year, but three straight days of gains saw the market move into positive territory for the week.

                    The FTSE 100, however, remained well below its high of 6,840,27 reached in May.

                    The recent headwinds hitting global equities could be seen in monthly losses of 5.6 per cent, the first negative month for the London market since May 2012. Quarterly losses were 3.1 per cent.

                    Kazakh miner ENRC led Friday’s worst performers among the blue-chips, slipping 3.7 per cent to 204p during a negative session for commodity producers.

                    Kazakhmys slid 2.4 per cent to 258.7p while continuing woes for gold prices sent African Barrick Gold tumbling 7.7 per cent to a record low of 96p.

                    BAE Systems fell 2.1 per cent to 383p after Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock from buy to hold.

                    Benjamin Fidler, analyst at Deutsche, said that, after a 14 per cent rise this year, there was limited upside in the stock, which was now approaching the bank’s revised target price of 400p.

                    But Deutsche had a more positive hand in lifting the shares of mobile telecommunications group Vodafone, which gained 0.8 per cent to 187.85p.

                    Lifting its rating to buy from hold, Deutsche said Vodafone’s recent acquisition of Kabel Deutschland set the tone for further strengthening of its European strategy, which would probably be funded by a sale of its stake in US unit Verizon Wireless.

                    “A deal is warranted sooner rather than later to maximise value and ensure that sufficient liquidity is available to continue Vodafone’s European turnround,” Deutsche analysts added.

                    Schroders, the fund manager, climbed 1.3 per cent to £21.83, helped by positive comment from Exane BNP Paribas. The broker lifted its rating on the shares from neutral to outperform.

                    The better conditions in Asian equity markets in the latter half of the week have helped fund managers generally but the more bearish economic tone as Friday’s session progressed turned early 1.2 per cent gains for Aberdeen Asset Management into losses of 0.4 per cent to 382.8p.

                    Among the financials, Barclays was the second-biggest loser on the FTSE 100, down 2.7 per cent to 278.45p as it announced plans to move 4,000 more administrative jobs to lower cost locations.

                    House prices rise in June

                    Posted on 28 June 2013 by

                    House prices across the UK rose by 0.3 per cent in
                    June according to the
                    latest Nationwide house price survey, pushing the average price of a property up to £168,941.

                    Nationwide said house prices have risen by 1.9
                    per cent in the past 12 months, but with significant variations across the country. The gap between London and the rest of the UK is now the widest it has ever been.

                      House prices in London are 5 per cent above their previous peak in 2007, while prices in the UK as a whole are 9 per cent lower.

                      In Northern Ireland, house prices have fallen by 2.1 per cent in the past year, and are still 52
                      per cent below their 2007 peak.

                      Elaine Moore