FTSE 100 closes above 6000 mark

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The Footsie 100 rose 12.85 points to close on Friday at 6008.92

A last-minute push saw the FTSE 100 Index close above the 6000 mark after spending most of Friday’s session in the red.

The Footsie closed 12.85 points higher at 6008.92 – repeating Thursday’s rally past the symbolic mark, which had not been reached since early June 2008.

Trading volumes were thin ahead of the Christmas holidays and stocks struggled to make headway with little in the way of corporate or UK economic news.

Mining stocks weighed the market down, with Eurasian Natural Resources losing 9p at 1045p and Xstrata off 9p at 1495p. Eurozone debt concerns still troubled the banks, after ratings agency Fitch downgraded Portugal’s debt to A-plus on Thursday.

The euro shrugged off the poor sentiment, however, and rose against the pound to 1.17. The pound was also down against the dollar at 1.54.

Barclays, which is heavily exposed to the Iberian peninsula, dipped 0.2p at 266.9p, while HSBC was down 0.7p at 667.3p. Randgold Resources hit the top of the fallers’ board, losing more than 4%, after the miner warned the political tension in the Ivory Coast would hit its gold production. At least 173 people have been killed in the Ivory Coast following last month’s disputed election. Shares fell 235p to 5265p.

Retailers were once again prominent on the risers board, as a last minute push for Christmas purchases was expected on the high street. Shoppers have remained indoors as heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures swept the country in the run up to Christmas. But the weather has relented in the last couple of days giving consumers a chance to hit the stores and take advantage of early sales. Marks & Spencer rose 1.6p to 376p, while B&Q parent Kingfisher added 3.3p to 267p and supermarket Tesco lifted 5.4p to 439p.

The travel sector has felt the pinch of the cold weather as well, as traders were shaken by the impact that flight cancellations would have on the industry. British Airways continued to recover from losses earlier in the week, up 2.7p at 275.9p, while Thomson Holidays owner TUI Travel was ahead 1.6p at 249.1p.

Outside the top flight, sportswear retailer JJB soared 27% after it revealed investors – including the foundation of Microsoft founder Bill Gates – were poised to raise more than £30 million to prevent its collapse. The group, which employs 6,300 staff, warned earlier this month it was likely to violate the terms of a £25 million loan as trade, hampered by the weather, continued to deteriorate. Shares were up 1.2p at 5.5p.

The biggest Footsie risers were Resolution up 4.7p at 239.5p, Next ahead 40p at 2047p, Smith & Nephew up 13p at 686p, Schroders ahead 23p at 1502p. The biggest Footsie fallers were Randgold Resources down 235p at 5265p, GKN off 8p at 218p, African Barrick Gold down 7p at 582p and BT off 1.8p at 186p.

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