Blue chip index ends final session of 2016 at all-time high
Annual perfomance best since 2009, up 14.4% year-on-year
FTSE 100 up 22 points to 7,142
Hammerson gains after selling 50% stake in a Southampton leisure and dining centre, about as exciting as it got for blue chip corporate news today
Close .... All-time peak achieved ...
The Footsie recovered late on from earlier falls to end the final session of 2016 at a new record high, although there was little news or activity to provide the boost.
At the 12.30pm close, the FTSE 100 index was 22.57 points higher at an all-time peak of 7,142.83, surpassing the previous record of 7,129.83 scaled in October this year.
The UK benchmark was up 14.4% overall in 2016, its best annual performance since 2009, when the market was recovering from the steep losses triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.
The FTSE's climb in 2016 was driven by a strong rally in the mining sector which jumped over 100% over the year thanks to stronger metals prices and expectations that US President-elect Donald Trump will keep his election pledge to boost infrastructure spending when he takes office at the end of January.
Miners were fairly mixed today though, with few real items of interest for investors during the half-day trading session.
Property investor Hammerson PLC (LON:HMSO) was among the best blue chip performers, up 1.8% after it sold a 50% stake in the Watermark development in Southampton to Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Private for £48.5 mln.
Among the mid caps, TP ICAP PLC (LON:TCAP) ended 4.8% higher after the money broker completed the acquisition of NEX Group PLCs (LON:NXG) global hybrid voice broking and information business, with 310.3 million new TP ICAP shares allotted to NEX shareholders, giving them a 56% stake in the former Tullett Prebon.
Meanwhile, NEX shares gained 4.5% after it said its share consolidation will become effective from today.
11.30am ... Dull drift to the half-day close ...
The Footsie stayed dull in late morning trading, with just an hour to go until the final close of 2016.
By 11.30am, the blue chip index was down around 30 points at 7,090 having reached closing record highs again yesterday.
The event marketing and media agency said David Ciclitira has provided further loans of £288,000, taking the total balance of monies advanced by Ciclitira and entities he controls to £1.4mln.
Boiler group Inspirit Energy Holdings PLC (LON:INSP) was also an end-of-year casualty, losing 18% at 0.16p as it reported a full-year pretax loss of £553,000, albeit narrowed from a loss of £779,000 a year earlier due to decreased administrative expenses.
08.15am ... The year is ending with a whimper ...
Opening trading has been every bit as dull as expected, with the FTSE 100 retreating a little from its all-time high.
The top-share index was down nine points at 7,111 after about a quarter of an hour of trading.
Hammerson's shares edged up a couple of pence to 565p as it revealed it is to sell 50% of Watermark, the newly-opened dedicated leisure and dining development in Southampton.
Singapore's sovereign wealth fund is buy the stake for a total consideration of £48.5 million.
The shares have halved this year, on some disappointing drilling results in Polk County, Texas, but they rallied 15% this morning as it revealed it had better luck in Tyler County, in East Texas.
The VOBM number 4 well encountered two separate, potentially significant, hydrocarbon-bearing zones before it reached its primary (Eagle Ford sandstone) and secondary (Austin Chalk) targets, the company said.
The shares climbed 8% as it completed its drilling programme at the Bougouni lithium project in Southern Mali.
High-grade lithium mineralisation continues to be returned in rock chip samples, the company said.
There was nothing alarming in the newsletter, but neither was there any news of progress in talks with industrial partners, and with the shares up 30% in the second half of the year this might just be a case of profit-taking before the end of the year.
06.55 am ... Preview ...
It's been an eventful year, but it looks like it will end, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The FTSE 100 closed at a new high of 7,120 yesterday, but looks set to take a few steps back today on what is a shortened trading day.
Spread betting quotes point to an opening level of around 7,114.
US markets were slightly soft overnight, with the Dow Jones dipping 14 points to 19,820 and the S&P 500 shedding two-thirds of a point at 2,249.
Commentators suggested traders were unwilling to open big positions ahead of the end-of-year totting up of annual performance.
Heading towards the close, Asian markets were mostly higher, except in Tokyo, where the Nikkei 225 was down 31 points at 19,114.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was feeling more festive, with the Hang Seng charging 217 points (1%) higher to 22,006.
Back home, no news is scheduled from the big names, leaving the stage clear for those tiddlers seeking a bit of limelight or, alternatively, hoping to sneak out some bad news on a day when few people are looking.
Around the markets
- Sterling: US$1.2277, up 0.14 cents.
- 10-year gilt: Yielding 1.091%
- Gold: US$1,160.70 an ounce, up US$2.60
- Brent crude: US$57.15 a barrel, up 30 cents
- House of Fraser to invest £35 million in challenger bank Tandem – Daily Telegraph
- Zero-hours workers ‘£1,000 worse off a year’ than employees – the Guardian
- Bumper year ahead for British tourism thanks to pound slump – The Guardian
- Co-op raises a glass to local beers – The Times
- M&A deals fall by half amid global trade fears – The Times
- Fund managers back financial firms and businesses with overseas earnings for 2017 – Daily Mail
- Luton house prices show most growth in 2016 – The Independent
- London house price growth behind UK for the first time since 2008 – The Independent
- AstraZeneca chief says NHS drug approval process hurts patients – Financial Times
- UK mobile users face return of steep roaming bills after Brexit – Financial Times
- Hundreds of jobs could be lost as Cadbury’s Fingers look set next to be made outside the UK – City AM