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Taylor Wimpey sales rise | JD US deal | Jupiter blow

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has posted a rise in sales rate during the crucial spring selling season and reiterated its annual outlook, even as affordability concerns and economic woes dent near-term recovery hopes in the sector.

The housing market has seen the year usher in signs of stability, but some lenders, while making more money for buyers available, have raised mortgage rates amid delays in central bank decisions on lowering the cost of borrowing.

“While we are mindful of ongoing market uncertainty and affordability challenges, it is pleasing to see continued market stability supported by good mortgage availability and sustained customer confidence,” CEO Jennie Daly said in a trading statement.

Net private sales rate, as of 21 April, came in at 0.73 units per outlet, better than the 0.67 homes logged in from the start of the year until next February.

The company reaffirmed its home-build targets of about 9,500-10,000 homes in the UK in 2024, excluding joint ventures. The midpoint of that range is about 7% lower than last year’s 10,438 units.

The order book stood at £2.09 billion as of 21 April, compared with £2.38bn corresponding period last year.

JD Sports’ US deal

JD Sports has proposed one of its biggest US acquisitions yet with the purchase of Nasdaq-listed sporting goods retailer Hibbett.

The UK leisure wear retailer, which owns Edinburgh firm Tiso as well as Go Outdoors, has entered into a binding agreement to pay $87.50 per share for 100% of the group’s capital at a 21% premium to yesterday’s closing price.

It implies a $1.08 billion (£878 million) valuation on the Alabama-headquartered company.

In a statement, JD’s management positioned the proposed acquisition as another step forward in enhancing its US retail exposure.

Jupiter outflows continue

The struggles in the UK funds sector continued as Jupiter Fund Management said it suffered outflows of £1.6 billion as clients withdrew money from the stock market.

The outflows included £1.1 billion from the so-called Value team.

Jupiter said positive “market movements” helped assets under management rise £2 billion in the first quarter to £52.6 billion.

Government borrowing falls

The Government borrowed £11.9 billion last month, down £4.7 bn on the same month last year. In the year to date borrowing has been £120.7 billion, equivalent to a deficit of 4.4% of GDP. Government debt is now 98.3% of GDP.

A Treasury spokesman said: “Debt increased in recent years because we rightly protected millions of jobs during Covid and paid half of people’s energy bills after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent bills skyrocketing.  

“We can’t leave future generations to pick up the tab, so we must stick to the plan to get debt falling. And with inflation falling and wages rising – we have been able to cut National Insurance by a third, which shows our determination to end the double taxation of work”. 

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