FTSE 100 closes down ahead of Italian referendum

London stock brokers (file photo) Image copyright AFP

(Close): The UK stock market closed down but shares in Berkeley Group ended the day higher after the housebuilder reported rising profits.

The benchmark FTSE 100 share index was down 22.21 points or 0.33% at 6,730.72, with investors cautious ahead of Italy's referendum at the weekend.

Rolls-Royce and BHP Billiton were among the biggest fallers.

In the FTSE 250, shares in Berkeley rose 8.45% after the housebuilder posted a 34% rise in half-year profits.

However, the company also said reservations were down 20% over the period, which it blamed on the higher stamp duty for buy-to-let landlords and uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote.

The FTSE 250 itself closed 62.06 points or 0.35% lower at 17,435.28.

On the FTSE 100 engine-maker Rolls-Royce lost 3.08% following the announcement that it is to cut about 800 jobs worldwide amid plans to reduce costs in its marine business.

Mining company BHP Billiton was down by 2.61% off the back of a fall in the price of copper.

The biggest risers were Land Securities, up 2.18% and Randgold Resources up 2.10%.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.66% against the dollar to $1.2740, and was 0.6% higher against the euro at €1.1882.

After falling earlier, the price of Brent crude rose 0.4% to $54.14 a barrel, while US crude rose 0.6% to $51.36.