Taylor Wimpey predicted tough conditions in the UK housing market would continue beyond the key spring selling season, with completions expected to fall a further 15% in 2008. Financial Times, Daily Telegraph

'Spring is likely to be more subdued,' said Peter Redfern, chief executive. 'The data show that there are real concerns about the economy and that clearly has a knock-on effect on us.'

He said that he could foresee 'a couple of interest rate cuts' and there were signs that the banks’ credit problems were unwinding.

Total completions fell from 21,910 to 20,645 in 2007 and analysts expect them to fall to about 17,500 this year.

Redfern said operating margins rose 2 percentage points to 14.5 per cent in 2007 and that the priority for 2008 would be to defend those margins.

In the US, which saw its share of group volumes fall from 34% to 25% during the year, Redfern said conditions remained 'exceptionally challenging' but that the 'pace of deterioration has slowed'.

Profits from its mainland Spain business would be “well below” those achieved in 2006. While sales in Gibraltar were stable, mainland Spain, where the majority of Taylor Wimpey’s customers are Britons and Germans buying second homes, remained tough.