Investors put a sold sign on Countrywide

Thursday, 24 November: FTSE indices on the whole struggled for market direction following mixed trade in Asia overnight, as our counterparts in the U.S. observed the Thanksgiving holiday. Trade today followed record highs for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Russell 200 yesterday, as the dollar hit its highest close since 2002 against a basket of currencies on expectations of stronger U.S. growth and higher interest rates. The FTSE 100 closed marginally higher(+0.17%) in a subdued day with no prevailing sentiment driving the index.

Further rhetoric trickled out in the wake of yesterday’s Autumn Statement, and its bad news for Britons. The Institute for Fiscal Studies pitched in, as it claimed that real wages will still be below pre-financial crash levels in 2021, rounding out more than a decade without real earnings growth.

Countrywide(-12.89%) sold off for a second consecutive day in the aftermath of the Chancellor’s statement. This time, the sentiment was company centric as it issued a trading statement describing transactional activity in the residential market as being challenged, due to stamp duty changes and the EU referendum. Management expectations are now for transaction volumes to be 6% down on 2015 for 2016, and for the level of market transactions in 2017 to be below that of 2016. The company also alluded to the fact that the letting market was affected by the rush to beat stamp duty changes at the end of Q1, resulting in a larger than usual supply of rental properties. As growth in stock outstripped growth in tenant numbers, this led to depressed rental growth, with rents falling in select areas. Total group revenue for the quarter was £188.5m, down from £197.1m for the respective prior period, as closing pipelines of Countrywide’s Retail and London businesses were down 16% and 26% respectively at the end of September.

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