Late flourish helps FTSE break 6000


The FTSE 100 Index has broken the 6000 mark for the first time since June 2008

A late flurry of activity has helped to push the FTSE 100 Index past the 6000 mark for the first time since June 2008, before the market closed 12.58 points up at 5996.07 – shortly after hitting the day’s high of 6000.55.

The market has pulled back from losses experienced earlier in the month, which were driven by fears over the mounting eurozone debt crisis.

Although trading volumes were quiet in London on Thursday, a late push saw the Footsie break past the 6000 mark minutes before the market closed.

The top flight index has risen by around 10% in 2010 to hit a two-and-a-half-year high, despite a tempestuous year which included eurozone bailouts, the formation of a new coalition Government and a major disaster involving BP, its biggest constituent and leading payer of dividends.

In recent weeks, the focus returned to the escalating sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, which particularly hit banking stocks, including Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.

Ireland followed in Greece’s footsteps and accepted a multibillion-pound bail-out from an EU and IMF fund, and since then economists have raised fears that other countries, including Spain and Portugal, will go the same way. But further developments – such as Thursday’s downgrade to Portugal’s credit rating by key agency Fitch – have been shrugged off by traders determined to hit the mark.

Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC markets, said 6000 was “symbolically important”.

He said: “It’s mostly about the feel-good factor, hitting that round figure will lift sentiment across the market. It was the market’s Christmas present to itself.”

Looking ahead, Mr Hewson said uncertainty around China’s monetary policy – specifically the possibility of further interest rate hikes – and political instability in the Korean peninsula could hamper further progress.

He added: “The upward trend is sustainable as long as there aren’t any nasty surprises to come.”

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