Despite housing prices in the UK bouncing back in March, recording a 0.7% rise compared with a 0.8% fall in February and, year-on-year prices rising 9% compared with the same month last year, the news did little to inspire London investors and shortly after midday the FTSE 100 index was marginally in the red, down 2.12 points or 0.04% to 5,708.54, shareprices.com can report, a free online resource providing share information on all FTSE 100, 250 and 350 London Stock Exchange listed companies.
The fall was regardless of strength in the mining sector with BHP Billiton being one of several risers after it announced that it had persuaded the majority of its Asian iron ore customers to switch to shorter term contracts, lifting its Share Prices up 30.5p or 1.35% to 2,298p. Traditionally, iron ore customers have preferred to negotiate contracts on an annual basis, so the latest move was seen as a victory not only for BHP Billiton, but for the mining industry as a whole.
Part-nationalised banks Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group, respectively 81% and 70% owned by the Treasury, continued their retreat. RBS was down 0.45p or 1% to 44.33p (more than likely subsequent to its £28 million fine announced this morning) and Lloyds down 1.24p or 1.96% to 62.01p on concerns of what the next Government might do following the General Election. According to economists, if the Government was to wait two years or more before selling its stakes in the banks it could make a substantial profit of £50 billion, but even if share prices do rise sufficiently the Government may have difficulty selling of its stock at market value.
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