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Market Watch

FINANCE

A SECOND profits warning of the year from Countryside sent jitters through the house building sector last week.

Countryside, which warned in April of reduced interest for £300,000-plus homes in London and the south-east, cautioned that demand is also easing for lower value homes in the south.

With estate agents Countrywide telling the City last week that prices continue to cool and brokers Williams de Broe urging traders to sell Countryside, the firm's stock fell from a recent 12-year high of 279p.This record price was inspired by plans for a management buyout.

Barratt and Country & Metropolitan, which wants to return to low value house building in the south, were also big losers.

Others taking a stock hit included Wimpey, down 27.25p to 401.75, Bovis, off 35p to 559p, and Bellway, which fell 42p to 740p.

Crest Nicholson, also gave up 17p to 348p.

Redrow sank as investors opted to take profits after the firm released annual results earlier last week.

Oakdene, which only floated on the Alternative Investment Market in May to fund expansion in the very area that is hurting Countryside, lost 5p to 101.5p.

Also on the junior markets Connaught fell back from a recent year high, losing 10.5p to 474.5p, after the maintenance contractor revealed that pulling out of the corporate FM market would incur a one-off hit of £7.8 million.

And AIM-listed contractor Wigmore sagged to a fresh low as two shareholders, Global Investments and Guardian Capital Ventures, sold up.