UPDATE 1-Homebuilder Persimmon expects first-half volumes returning to 2019 levels

(Adds CEO’s comment, background)

April 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s second-largest homebuilder Persimmon said on Wednesday first-half volumes were on track to return to levels last seen in 2019 as the sector benefits from government support measures and low interest rates.

Last month, British finance minister Rishi Sunak extended tax breaks for home buyers until October and unveiled a mortgage guarantee scheme in the budget, moves that bolstered the housing sector after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a phased exit plan from COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Demand for newly built homes remains healthy and the group’s sales rates are encouraging,” Chief Executive Officer Dean Finch said.

Persimmon, the only major UK homebuilder that had taken a cautious stance amid robust demand in the sector, said its current outlet network is expected to remain stable at about 300 outlets on average throughout the year.

The FTSE 100 firm also said its year-to-date forward sales position stood at 3 billion pounds ($4.16 billion), compared with 2.4 billion pounds a year earlier.

$1 = 0.7204 pounds Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V