Persimmon signalled the depth of the decline in the house building industry as it scrapped its final dividend for 2008 and warned of 'challenging' times ahead.

Britain’s second-biggest house builder by market capitalisation said that it would focus on conserving cash until the availability of credit improved.

Profits for the year would be in line with market expectations, Persimmon said. It has sold 10,202 units, down 36 per cent from the previous year, at an average price of about £172,000, to give revenues of about £1.76bn for the year. It also has forward sales of about £400m.

Shares in Persimmon, which had fallen 57% over the past year, rose 13.25p to 293p.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph