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FTSE 100 closes on new high, boosted by precious metals miners

The 'Santa rally' and a strong showing from miners meant the UK premier index closed up around 37 points

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FTSE 100 started lower on Thursday
  • FTSE 100 hits new high 

  • Gold price rise boosts precious metals miners

  • Ashtead hit by profit-takers after bumper run 

The FTSE 100 closed on fresh high after an unpromising start, driven forward once again by the re-invigorated precious metals miners.

At the close, the index of blue-chips shares was up just over 14 points at 7,120.26.

Volumes were thin, but what momentum there was on Thursday was behind Fresnillo (LON:FRES) and Randgold Resources (LON:RRS), the beneficiaries of a surge in the gold price.

“These names have been heavily beaten down in the past two months, as gold and silver retreat, but perhaps their tribulations are over,” said Chris Beauchamp, of spread betting firm IG.  

“The US dollar is weakening, and there finally seems to be some real staying power in the gold bounce.”

Ashtead (LON:AHT), a big dollar earner and therefore boosted by the post-Brexit weakness of the pound, succumbed to profit taking as it fell 2.3%.

That said, investors who backed the plant rental giant at the start of 2016 are currently sitting on a 50% capital gain.

Rolls-Royce (LON:RR.), another decent performer this year, was not far behind as its stock drifted 1.8%. 

  • FTSE 100 still in red after profit-taking

  • Miners in support

  • BP shares spurting higher

12.30pm...Footsie still in the red

FTSE 100 is still in the red at lunch, with miners still propping up the index.

The UK benchmark is down 0.06% at 7,102 having reached a record close yesterday, with profit taking from the gains cited as a reason for the fall.

The biggest riser is still Fresnillo plc (LON:FRES) up almost 3% at 1,204p.

In the small caps, the FTSE AIM 100 is also higher - up 0.07% at 4,053.

The biggest laggard is Ashtead Group plc (LON:AHT), down 1.74% to stand at 1,581p.

Nudging higher is oil titan BP (LON:BP.) with shares adding 0.37% to 510.80p.

It comes after news emerged it has inked a sale and purchase agreement for liquefied natural gas with Thailand’s PTT, a petroleum and petrochemical company. BP will provide 1mln tonnes per year to PTT for 20 years, starting next year.

On Wednesday, it revealed the acquisition of over 500 petrol stations in Australia in a deal that will confirm it as one of the county’s biggest fuel sellers.

Brent crude is up over 2.38% to US$56.41 a barrel despite an earlier report from the American Petroleum Institute showing a 4.2 million barrel increase in US stockpiles last week, surprising analysts’ estimates.

 

10.15am 

FTSE 100 is clawing its way towards positive territory and down 0.09% in morning trade.

In a truncated week, still mostly in holiday mode, the FTSE 100 is at 7,099, down around six points, having started the day about 20 points lower.

Miners are still propping up the index with silver giant Fresnillo plc (LON:FRES) top dog, up 2.48% to stand at 1,199p each.

The gold price is up 0.74% to US$1,149 an ounce.

Randgold Resources plc (LON:RRS) is in second place, up 2.04%  at 6,245p a pop.

On the losing front, banking behemoth Barclays plc (LON:BARC) is down 1.7% to 220.9p. Lloyds (LON:LLOY) is also down over 1% and RBS (LON:RBS) shed 0.53% to 224.10p.

The latter is reportedly facing the Bank of England ordering an independent inquiry into its plans to sell off Williams & Glyn (W&G), the 314-branch network it has struggled to dispose of for over seven years.

The European Commission demanded it divest a business as a condition of its massive £45.5bn taxpayer bailout during the financial crisis.

Banks and financial firms look to 2017 with some trepidation as there is still much uncertainty as to the future shape of Brexit and Britain's economic fortunes this year.

8.30am

FTSE 100 opened, as expected, lower as the Santa rally appeared to fizzle out.

The bluechip index started around 20 points lower at 7,085, but still above that 7,000 level.

The top laggard was BT Group (LON:BT.A) down 1.18% to 354.10p, while on the risers, the podium wnet to gold producer Randgold Resources (LON:RRS), up over 2.2% to 6,255p.

7am

FTSE 100 is called to open lower today after closing at a fresh record high yesterday (Wednesday, Dec 28).

The so-called 'Santa rally' and a strong showing from miners meant the UK premier index closed up around 37 points, or 0.54% at 7,106 - higher than the previous record of 7,103.98 on April 27, 2015.

But today the blue chip index is called by spread better IG Index to open around 26 points lower, as are other European indices. The German Dax is called to open around 32 lower.

It comes after pressure on Asian shares overnight with the Japanese Nikkei 222 losing 1.52% to 19,145.

Several big company names were in the frame with the electronics giant Toshiba seeing shares fall after it received credit downgrades, and those came from ratings agencies after the group revealed it may have to issue several billion dollars in write-downs related to a US acquisition.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones finished down 0.56% to19.833, while the broader S&P500 finished 0.84% lower at 2,249.

Notably today, the oil price is in focus with the price of the black gold on the slide as data showed US stockpiles were likely to have increased last week, showing more of a glut than analysts had expected.

US crude stocks rose by 4.2 mln barrels in the week ended December 23.

The price at the time of writing the price of US crude is 0.39% down at US$53.84 a barrel.

City headlines

  • Business and banking leaders have offered further commitments to the UK post-Brexit, as it emerged that growth in British businesses has fallen to a four-year low (Telegraph)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland is braced for the Bank of England to order an independent inquiry into its plans to offload Williams & Glyn (W&G), the 314-branch network the state-backed lender has been struggling to divest for more than seven years (Telegraph)
  • Airbus to cut production of A380 in fresh blow for 'superjumbo' (Telegraph)
  • BP fills up with $1.3bn Australian petrol station deal (BBC)
  • Shares in Toshiba fell another 15 per cent to ¥263.5 on Thursday morning, taking the total loss of equity value to more than 40 per cent since the Japanese company announced that it was facing a multibillion-dollar writedown at US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse.
  • As investors continued to digest Tuesday’s warning, shares in some of Japan’s biggest banks slid after the electronics-to-nuclear conglomerate raised the prospect of losses on their loans. (FT)
  • Bovis Homes, one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, has issued a profit warning, sending shivers through the sector.

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