* FTSE 100 down 0.3 pct
* Housebuilders hit by comments from BoE's Miles
* Rise in oil price hurts airline stocks
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, June 23 Britain's top equity index fell
on Monday for the first time in a week as declines in
housebuilding and airline shares weighed on the market, which
had been approaching record highs.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which had risen for
the last four sessions, was down by 0.3 percent, or 19.33
points, at 6,805.87 points going into the end of the trading day
- some 2 percent below a December 1999 record high of 6,950.60
"I suspect that the market will keep trending up, but for
the moment we're neutral on it," said Logic Investments'
director of trading Darren Easton.
Housebuilder Barratt Developments was the
worst-performing FTSE stock in percentage terms, declining by
3.7 percent, while rival Persimmon fell 2 percent.
The companies were hit by comments over the weekend from
Bank of England (BoE) policymaker David Miles, one of the
central bank's most dovish members, who said it was increasingly
likely he would vote to raise interest rates before leaving the
BoE's monetary policy committee next May.
The housebuilding and property sector has been one of the
best-performing segments of the UK stock market over the last
year, as record low interest rates and home-buying incentives
pushed the FTSE 350 Construction & Building Materials Index
up 23.4 percent last year.
However, the likelihood that interest rates may rise over
the coming year has since tempered its performance, and the
construction and building materials index fell 1.9 percent on
"Interest rates may be rising sooner rather than later, and
that's been the cause for a bit of a backlash for the
housebuilders," said JNF Capital trader Rick Jones.
Airline stocks also suffered as the oil price, a large cost
for airlines, rose above $115 a barrel on concerns over possible
disruptions to supply from Iraq where Sunni insurgents seized
control of more towns over the weekend.
EasyJet fell 2.1 percent, while British
Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines Group
retreated by 1.2 percent.
"There's a pretty worrying picture in Iraq, and we're seeing
that reflected in the oil price," said IG analyst Alastair
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Toby