FTSE 100 clinches another record high as US peers follow suit
Stock markets were ending the first week of 2018 on a high.
The new year stock market rally continued on Friday, sending the FTSE 100 to a fresh intraday and closing high while peers overseas continued to gather pace.
London’s blue chip index was trading as high as 7,727.73 points around midday before edging back slightly to end the day up nearly 0.4% or 28.34 points at 7,724.22 points.
It tops a closing high of 7,695.88 points reached just a day earlier.
Ratings upgrades fuelled gains in Centrica and United Utilities stocks, which topped the FTSE 100 at the close.
Across the pond, US equity markets were pushing higher, driven in part by worse-than-expected non-farm payroll data, which showed that the US economy added 148,000 jobs in December.
“It’s business as usual on Wall Street as the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 all post new record highs. The bullish sentiment surrounding American stocks was fuelled by the announcement of the latest non-farm payrolls report,” David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets, said.
“The fact that the headline figure missed expectations damps down rate hike prospects, which is good for equity markets,” he explained.
Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax ended the day higher, up 1.05% and 1.15%, respectively.
Brent crude prices took a step back, dropping 0.7% to around 67.45 US dollars per barrel, having surpassed 68 US dollars just a day earlier, marking its highest level since May 2015.
Tensions in major oil producer Iran drove prices higher this week, but tides turned for the global crude benchmark on Friday as investors started to cash in on the rise.
“Profit taking from the recent positive run has kicked in,” Mr Madden said.
Sterling was trading higher against its peers, rising just shy of 0.1% against the US dollar to trade at 1.356, and climbing more than 0.3% versus the euro to 1.126.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Friday showed that UK labour productivity expanded by 0.9% in the third quarter of last year, marking the largest rise since the second quarter of 2011.
Investors were also digesting details of the BRC-Nielson Shop Price Index, which showed that prices dropped at their fastest rate since March 2017.
Non-food prices fell at their fastest rate since January last year, dropping 2.1% year-on-year compared with November’s 1.1%.
In UK stocks, shares in housebuilder Cairn slumped 3.5% or 0.07p to 1.92p, despite the firm issuing forecasts for higher earnings – expected to climb from 3.8 million euro (£3.3 million) to up to 15 million euro (£13.3 million) – for 2017.
Johnson Service Group rose 2.4p at 144p after the workwear and linen firm said full-year results would be “slightly ahead” of management expectations, as it announced the acquisition of Wrexham-based StarCounty, a specialist hotel and catering linen business, for £3.9 million.
Online instrument seller Gear4Music tumbled 6% or 47p to 725p after total sales climbed 42%, helped by strong demand both at home and overseas.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Centrica up 4.35p at 146.15p, United Utilities Group up 18p at 817.8p, Smith & Nephew up 28p at 1,285.5p, and Next up 106p at 4,854p.
The biggest fallers were Admiral Group down 56.5p at 1,872p, Barclays down 5.32p at 199.18p, Mediclinic International down 6.4p at 626p, and Tesco down 1.5p at 209.7p.