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FTSE 100 closes at all-time record high 7106.08

London's top-flight index has closed at an all-time high as the traditional Santa rally boosted blue chip stocks.

The FTSE 100 rose 37.91 points to 7106.08 after the mining giants put in a strong performance in the first trading session since the Christmas break.

Despite the thin trading volumes, the London market broke above its previous closing high of 7103.98 set on April 27 last year.

Mining giants Anglo American and Rio Tinto played their parts in pushing the market higher after both rising more than 3%.

However, it was the precious metal stocks Fresnillo and Randgold Resources which emerged as the biggest risers on the London market, soaring 5% and 4% respectively.

Commodities were helped further by a hike in the cost of crude as benchmark Brent lifted 0.6% higher to 56.41 US dollars a barrel.

But airlines and banks missed out on the festive rally, while a profit warning from Bovis Homes saw the housebuilder suffer share losses in the FTSE 250 Index.

David Cheetham, market analyst at online trading group XTB, said: "Observers of the markets have for many years noticed a strong propensity for stocks to rise in the period between Christmas and the New Year and this phenomenon appears to be playing out once more."

He added that falls in the value of the pound against the US dollar and a raft of currencies was also helping the FTSE gain ground.

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines was seeing contrasting fortunes, down nearly 3%, followed close behind by low-cost rival easyJet, off 2%.

Bovis dropped more than 5% in the second tier after the group warned over profits as it said build delays in the run-up to Christmas would hit sales.

The builder said it would miss its 2016 sales target due to "slower-than-expected build production" in December, with completions on around 180 homes set to be delayed into early 2017.

The negative sentiment spread across housebuilding stocks, with FTSE 100 firm Persimmon down 1% and Barratt Developments slipping 0.9% lower.

But retailers Sports Direct and online fashion group Boohoo were enjoying gains after unveiling deals.

Sports Direct was 2% higher in the FTSE 250 after announcing the £112 million (137.5 million US dollars) sale of its Dunlop brand to Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, boohoo.com lifted 3% after revealing plans to snap up the brand of collapsed US fashion firm Nasty Gal in a 20 million US dollar (£16 million) deal.

On the currency markets, the pound was down 0.3% against the US dollar at 1.222 and 0.3% lower versus the euro at 1.176.

Sterling took a tumble as traders turned their attention to the fast-approaching March deadline for triggering Article 50 and taking Britain out of the European Union.

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