Belfast Telegraph

Rising supermarket stocks push FTSE 100 to record closing high

London’s blue chip index ended the day up 34.51 points or 0.45% to 7731.02 points.

Strong Christmas sales figures lifted supermarket stocks to the top of the FTSE 100 on Tuesday, helping send the index to another record high.

London’s blue chip index pushed past its last closing record of 7724.22 – reached just last Friday – ending the day up 34.51 points or 0.45% to 7731.02.

David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “The London market has been helped along by the supermarkets as Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are in demand on the back of the report from Nielsen which stated all of the ‘big four’ had a positive Christmas period.”

Nielson data showed shoppers spent almost £500 million more on groceries this December than a year earlier, reaching £10.5 billion.

It helped boost Sainsbury shares up 7.4p to 248.4p, Marks and Spencer Group shares up 7.5p to 318.3p and Morrison Supermarkets up 5.4p to 232.3p.

Investors were also cheering the release of Morrisons’ trading update, which showed sales picking up pace over the last seven weeks – up 3.7% across the group after a 2.8% jump in retail and 0.9% wholesale rise.

“Morrisons was struggling a few years ago, but with the company diversification into wholesale and the success of the online operation, the business is looking healthier,” Mr Madden said.

The pound was trading lower against key peers, down 0.4% versus the US dollar at 1.351 and hovering around the flatline against the euro at 1.133.

Across Europe, the French Cac 40 and German Dax climbed 0.67% and 0.13%, respectively.

Brent crude prices rose by over 0.9% to 68.51 US dollars per barrel as investors pegged hopes that current production cuts by Opec oil giants would continue to tackle the global glut.

In UK stocks, Persimmon was down 33p at 2,715p as a controversial £100 million payout to its chief executive overshadowed an upbeat trading update from the housebuilder.

The company has come under heavy fire from politicians over a long-term incentive plan introduced in 2012, which will see chief executive Jeff Fairburn pocket the bumper pay award.

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JustEat surcharge

Just Eat shares dropped 11.4p to 793p as it drew criticism over the introduction of a 50p service fee on all its orders, shortly before a ban on card surcharges comes into effect.

Just Eat said it had already been reviewing its charges.

Topps Tiles shares jumped 7.2p to 87.2p after the tile retailer reported first-quarter sales growth, just months after warning over profits on the back of a slowing housing market.

It said like-for-like revenues for the 13 weeks to December 30 rose 3.4%.

Carillion slumped 3.02p to 20.85p after the troubled infrastructure giant said it was unaware of any material developments that would have caused its share price to rocket on Monday.

The company, which is embroiled in an ongoing crisis that has involved a string of profit warnings, saw its shares leap over 20% a day earlier as investors held out hope that a meeting with lenders later this week would secure a rescue plan.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were J Sainsbury up 7.4p at 248.4p, Anglo American up 50p at 1,677p, Micro Focus International up 56p at 2,201p, and Smurfit Kappa up 62p at 2,488p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were United Utilities down 29.8p at 782.2p, Severn Trent down 68p at 2,063p, Centrica down 3.65p at 141.4p, and National Grid down 13.9p at 850.7p.

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