FTSE 100 ekes out another record high in last full trading day of 2017
It was the third fresh top marker for the London index in just one week.
The FTSE 100 nearly flat-lined on Thursday but managed to eke out a fresh record high in the UK’s last full trading day of 2017.
The index closed up merely 2.2 points to hit a new record high of 7,622.88 points, edging above the 7,620.68 record set on Wednesday.
It marks the third such record in just one week in a move that has been chalked up to a market phenomenon known as a “Santa Rally”.
Lower trading volumes and bargain hunting ahead of an anticipated rise in stock prices at the start of January are usually credited for fuelling a year-end market rise.
But the FTSE 100’s European peers ended the day lower, with the French Cac 40 and German Dax closing down by 0.5% and nearly 0.7%, respectively.
It was the last full trading day for the UK until January 2, with equity markets set to close early from 12.30pm London time on Friday.
Sterling exchange rates were mixed, with the pound up 0.3% against the US dollar at 1.343, but down 0.15% versus the euro at 1.124.
Oil prices were hovering near two and a half year highs as investors cheered signs of stronger crude demand from China.
Brent crude rose to 66.28 US dollars per barrel in morning trading, marking the highest level since last May 2015, but eased slightly in the afternoon to around 65.90 US dollars per barrel.
It was hit in part by data from the US Energy Information Administration showing a rise in gasoline inventories.
The relatively buoyant commodity prices did little to prop up FTSE 100 oil producers, with BP ending the day nearly flat at 518.6p, while Royal Dutch Shell’s ‘B’ shares also stalled at 2,486.5p.
But mining stocks were on the rise on the back of strong copper prices which climbed to their highest level in nearly four years, again on the back of Chinese demand.
It propelled the share prices of stocks including Rio Tinto up 58.5p at 3,858p, Anglo American up 13.5p at 1,537.5p, and BHP Billiton up 13.5p at 1,499.5p.
Tesco shares fell 0.7p to 208.4p as the retailer moved to refund and compensate customers who have complained that turkeys bought for Christmas dinners were rotten and in some cases made people ill.
The retailer has apologised to those affected and said it was providing them with a refund and offering a goodwill gesture, adding that the complaints made up a small proportion of the more than half a million turkeys it sold leading up to Christmas.
Away from the top tier, shares in Telit Communications fell 5.25p to 149.75p despite being granted an advance waiver by a key lender, meaning the business will avoid breaching its banking covenants by December 31.
The internet of things company says it is still in discussions with the bank over amendments to its covenant package going forward.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Rio Tinto up 58.5p at 3,858p, Morrison Supermarkets up 2.6p at 219.2p, AstraZeneca up 53p at 4,998.5p, and BHP Billiton up 13.5p at 1,499.5p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BT Group down 6.9p at 267.35p, NMC Health down 64p at 2,839p, Old Mutual down 2.9p at 224.9p, and Halma down 14p at 1,256p.