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Market Watch

FINANCE

MANY of the top house builders continue to suffer from Tony Pidgley's decision to downsize Berkeley, which some in the City are taking as a sign that house prices have topped out.

Shares in Berkeley had been falling prior to the management giving a presentation last week outlining plans to quit traditional house building and halve its output over the next six years.

This helped stem the fall yet Berkeley still closed the week off 32p at 1,208p, but others suffered.

Wilson Bowden, Taylor Woodrow and retirement homes specialist McCarthy & Stone were all among the top 10 losers in the Construction News index.

Other house builders to take a tumble last week included Redrow, off 16.5p to 355.5p; Country & Metropolitan, down 8p to 173.5p and Barratt, which was marked down 20.5p to 565p.

Persimmon also crumbled 18p to 612p as Deutsche Bank ditched its 'buy' rating on the house building giant.

Merrill Lynch re-iterated a 'buy' rating on Bovis up to 680p but this failed to calm market jitters with the stock giving up 16p to 513p.

Morgan Sindall was among the risers after broker Arbuthnot repeated a 'buy' rating ahead of the contractor's half-year results on August 9.

Wigmore also rose as investors approved of alternative refinancing proposals from the AIM-listed mini-construction conglomerate, which has terminated a deal with Square Mile in favour of a £300,000 convertible loan note with Burnbrae Limited.