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FILE PHOTO: People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain, August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

FTSE slips as homebuilders crumble; RBS shines

WT24 Desk

Falls among housebuilders on Friday dampened an otherwise strong week for the UK’s top share index, with lender Royal Bank of Scotland among top performers after a strong set of results, Reuters reports.

Britain’s blue chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index was down 0.1 percent at 7,468.76 points by 0846 GMT, though it was on track to mark its best week since May. Mid caps .FTMC fell 0.3 percent.

In a busy week of company earnings, robust first half results from lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) sent its shares up 2.4 percent, with peers Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and Lloyds (LLOY.L) also making slight gains.

RBS’ shares were on course for their best day in three months on signs that its recovery was gathering speed, after its first-half profit beat expectations.

“Bulls will like the strong capital and revenue beat,” analysts at Jefferies said in a note. Heavyweight mining firms including Rio Tinto (RIO.L), Anglo American (AAL.L) and Glencore (GLEN.L) also rose, helped by a supportive copper price. [MET/L]

However gains were dampened by sizeable falls among housebuilding stocks, with shares in Barratt Developments (BDEV.L), Persimmon (PSN.L) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) all sliding between 3.8 to 5.4 percent.

Traders cited a media report that the UK government was reviewing Help-to-Buy, a scheme aimed at helping first-time buyers on to the property ladder.

Mid cap Bellway (BWY.L) also fell 3.5 percent.

Half year results weighed on education publisher Pearson (PSON.L), whose shares fell 1.5 percent after cutting its dividend and saying that it would slash another 3,000 jobs.

Pearson has struggled with a slowdown in its key North American market as well as the rise of digital, and its shares have dropped more than 20 percent so far this year.

“Dividend also looks as though it will be in the c.15p range for the FY, which may also disappoint.” Dividend disappointment also weighed on shares in Hargreaves Lansdown (HRGV.L), which dropped nearly 5 percent after the fund platform cancelled its special dividend for the year.

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