Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 defies superstition with 12th consecutive record close on Friday 13th

The FTSE 100 shrugged off superstition and posted its twelfth consecutive record close on Friday the 13th, as the pound shed some gains and house-building stocks pulled higher.

London's top tier index rose 45.44 points or 0.6% to set a fresh closing high of 7,337.81, pushing past Thursday's record finish of 7,292.37.

It was helped by the pound, which saw gains against the US dollar momentarily stall after the release of US retail sales and consumer sentiment figures. Sterling weakness tends to benefit multinational firms on the FTSE 100.

But sterling quickly resumed its climb to trade higher by 0.4% to 1.220 against the greenback in later trading.

Against the euro, the pound was up by 0.2% at 1.148.

London's top flight index was also dragged higher by Barratt Developments which rose 18p to 516p, regaining ground after a dip on Thursday when the housebuilder reported a 6% drop in total home completions in the six months to the end of December.

However, the company predicted that pre-tax profits rose 7% to around £315 million over the period, driven by "robust consumer demand".

It helped buoy the stock prices of home improvement retailer Kingfisher up 8.8p to 353p, and house builders Persimmon up 27p to 1,997p, and Taylor Wimpey up 1.5p to 172.6p.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK said: "UK housebuilding is one of the sectors that has managed to confound the negative narrative in the aftermath of last June's Brexit vote, yet share prices in the sector continue to remain well below their pre-Brexit peaks, perhaps suggesting that investors don't believe the current performance is sustainable."

Across Europe, the French Cac 40 rose 1.2%, while the German Dax rose 0.9%.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices fell 0.7% to 55.72 US dollars per barrel (£45.70) as investors doubted the likelihood of Opec members and major producers sticking to pledged supply cuts.

In UK stocks, ITV rose 5.6p to 208.6p as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan raised their price target for the stock.

It also rose on renewed speculation over potential merger and acquisition activity, Mr Hewson said.

Countrywide shares rose 8.75p to 179p, despite reporting a dip in revenue in the fourth quarter as Brexit jitters and changes to stamp duty continue to hit the property market.

All Bar One and Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers saw shares rise 4.5p to 264.7p as like-for-like sales grew 4.7% in the four weeks to January 7.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Barratt Developments up 18p to 516p, ITV up 5.6p to 208.6p, Kingfisher up 8.8p to 353p, and St James's Place up 26p to 1,085p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Rolls-Royce Holdings down 15.5p to 661.5p, Marks and Spencer Group down 5.8p to 339.1p, Randgold Resources down 85p to 6,710p, and Smurfit Kappa Group down 24p to 2,129p.