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Market Watch

FINANCE

SHARES in most of the major house builders held firm last week despite yet more disappointing results.

Poor UK trading at Taylor Woodrow and Wimpey was offset by strong performances in the USA.

This helped Wimpey's stock up 8.5p to 425.75p, while Taywood firmed 5.75p to 324.75p.

David Taylor, an analyst at stockbrokers Teather & Greenwood, said: 'In the UK, Taywood's trading will remain difficult in the short term but prospects do appear to be considerably brighter towards the end of next year as strategic land starts to impact.' Half-year results from Wilson Bowden also included a slump in completions at its main house building subsidiary, David Wilson Homes.

The stock still closed the week up 29p at £11.60 with T&G and Bridgewell both re-iterating a 'buy' rating.

Among the contractors, Amec was forced to take a provision on a bad job but only lost 1.25p to 348.75p after brokers Citigroup reiterated a 'hold' rating.

Atkins gained fourpence to 700p on an upgrade from 'hold' to 'buy' from brokers Panmure, which raised its target price by 30p to 760p, citing recent share price weakness.

On the Alternative Investment Market, shares in house builder and developer Artisan took a tumble as Martyn Freeman stood down as chief executive.

The group's shareholders, mostly of the retail variety, were more concerned by falling demand at east Midlandsbased housing arm Rippon than Mr Freeman's departure. Finance director Chris Musselle is taking the chief executive's chair.