FTSE 100 gains for sixth day on homebuilders’ boost

By Siddarth S and Shubham Batra

(Reuters) -UK’s FTSE 100 logged a six-day winning streak on Wednesday, as home builders led gains for a second straight session, while Prudential climbed after reporting strong half-year profit.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.1%, hovering around two-week highs. FTSE 250 index climbed 0.5%.

The sterling ticked higher to $1.27 after weak U.S. economic data softened the dollar.

Home builders led gains among sectors, adding 1.8%. Britain said on Tuesday it would remove some European Union rules it had retained post-Brexit that were meant to curb water pollution, to enable thousands of new homes to be built.

“Maybe home builders are expecting a downturn in mortgage rates to signal a bottom in the recent negative sentiment in the UK housing market,” said Giles Coghlan, chief market analyst at HYCM.

Life insurance stocks rose 0.6% as Prudential surged 1.5% after the Asia-focused insurer posted a 3.6% rise in first-half operating profit.

Airline stocks were in focus after Willie Walsh, the head of global airlines group IATA, told the BBC the cost to airlines from Britain’s air traffic control failure on Monday is likely to reach about 100 million pounds ($126 million).

IAG and Wizz Air fell 1.2% and 0.3%, respectively.

Britain on Tuesday scrapped a rule inherited from the European Union that limited where investors could trade shares, as part of wider moves to bolster London’s reputation as an open and competitive global financial centre.

The investment banking and brokerage services sector rose 0.3%.

Shares of Tullow Oil dropped 6.6% after a military coup in Gabon, where the West Africa-focused oil producer has significant operations.

Direct Line Insurance Group fell 1.3% after surging earlier in the day. The British motor and home insurer named Adam Winslow, a senior executive at Aviva, as its new CEO.

(Reporting by Siddarth S and Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Eileen Soreng and Richard Chang)