Investors watched from behind their sofas as Persimmon posted its 2007 results on Tuesday. This was the first major indicator of the state of the market in 2008, and there was good and bad news.

Things can’t have been as gory as some feared because Persimmon’s shares had rallied 4% to 794p by 1pm. Mike Farley, the housebuilder’s chief executive, must have enjoyed his lunch.

By the close of play the price had dropped back to 770p. One analyst said the volatility was caused by increased trading by hedge funds, looking to make a quick buck from the sector.

The broad upwards swing continued into Wednesday morning, when Barratt posted its results. Early trading saw a 2.4% rise in its shares to 434p. The rest of the housebuilders followed a similar pattern.

Investors must have been relieved there hadn’t been a meltdown. Well, not yet, anyway.