Rally by precious metal stocks pushes FTSE 100 to another record high
London's top-flight index has closed at a record high for the second day running thanks to a rally from precious metal stocks.
The FTSE 100 Index rose 14.18 points to hit a new high of 7120.26, after the traditional Santa Rally helped it reach a record closing high of 7106.08 in the previous session.
However, the market fell just shy of the mid-session record set on October 11 when the UK's premier index reached 7129.83 after receiving a boost from the Brexit-hit pound.
Sterling's post-referendum slump has proved a boon for multinational companies listed on the FTSE 100, as many tend to benefit from earnings in currencies - such as the US dollar - which are stronger than the pound.
Gold miners Randgold Resources and Fresnillo led the charge on the London market, climbing more than 4%.
The rally was spurred by the price of gold, which rose 1.3% to 1156.9 US dollars an ounce.
The new record on the London market came amid thin trading volumes and a number of blue chip stocks going ex-dividend - a process where new buyers no longer qualify for the latest dividend payment.
Among the ex-dividend stocks were Dixons Carphone, down 1%.
Across Europe, Germany's Dax and the Cac 40 in France were both 0.2% lower.
The price of oil broke above the 57 US dollar mark, but a surprise increase in US inventories prevented it climbing any higher. Brent crude was up 0.2%, or 10 cents, at 57.06 US dollars a barrel.
On the currency markets, the pound regained some strength against the US dollar, rising 0.1% to 1.223, but was down 0.6% against the euro at 1.166.
In UK stocks, housebuilders struggled to make gains despite the latest survey from the Nationwide Building Society showing property values have increased by 4.5% across 2016.
The average UK house price stood at £205,898 in December, marking a 0.8% month-on-month increase, the report said.
A 4.5% annual increase in December was the same as the rise in December last year, indicating that the last 12 months have seen "relative stability" in the market, according to Nationwide.
However, the rate of price growth in London has ended the year below the national average.
Shares in Barratt Developments were off 0.2% and Taylor Wimpey was down 0.1%.