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McCarthy & Stone PLC (LON:MCS) ticked higher first thing as the retirement homes builder said although it had seen some slowing of sales momentum in recent weeks due to the uncertainty created by the UK general election underlying trading conditions “remained stable”. In early morning trading, McCarthy & Stone shares on the FTSE 250 index were up 1.4% or 2.2p at 165.6p. In a trading update for the period from 1 March 2017 to 4 July 2017, the FTSE 250-listed group said it has “continued to make steady progress in increasing its forward order book.” READ: Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone blames Brexit for weak first half trading The firm added that reservation rates have remained broadly in line with the prior year despite the previously highlighted lower number of new sales releases so far this year at 39, down from 58 at the same stage last year. McCarthy & Stone said, as anticipated, it has seen upward momentum in average selling prices and margins since 1 March, reflecting a continuing improvement in sales mix which is set to continue into the next financial year. The firm said average selling prices exceeded £280,000 per unit during the period, up from £265,000 in 2016, and the group's total forward order book has increased by £241m since 1 March. It added that total forward sales including legal completions to date are now in line with the prior year at £659mln representing a significant improvement since the start of the financial year. Good progress in rebuilding post-EU vote shortfall The group noted that, throughout the year, it has been making good progress in rebuilding the forward order book to address the shortfall brought into the year following last June’s EU Referendum. But it added: “In light of the current uncertainty in the market however, it is possible that there may be a modest impact on the timing of conversion of existing reservations into completions.” The firm said it remains confident of delivering 80 new sales releases next financial year, around an 80% increase over the 44 sales releases forecast for the current year. Clive Fenton, McCarthy & Stone’s chief executive officer, said: "The Group has made good progress in rebuilding its forward order book despite the lower number of new sales releases this year. “The market for high-quality retirement housing remains strong notwithstanding any potential uncertainty as a result of the UK General Election outcome and the underlying housing market continues to be supported by low interest rates, good mortgage availability and low levels of unemployment. “In light of this attractive backdrop and our strong workflow position, we remain confident of our ability to deliver our growth objective of building and selling more than 3,000 units per annum." -- Adds share price --NEXT ARTICLE
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