London close: Stocks push further into record territory, amid holiday-thinned trading volumes
London shares notched up fresh record highs on Wednesday as the pound ticked up against the greenback, with a strong performance from miners and retailers and a sprinkling of M&A news providing some momentum amid holiday-thinned volumes.
The FTSE 100 was 0.37% or 28.02 points firmer at 7,620.68, while the pound was up 0.16% against the dollar at 1.3399 and 0.15% lower versus the euro at 1.1261.
Commenting on Wednesday's market action, IG's Joshua Mahony said: "The FTSE 100 and 250 indices have punched into fresh highs as we head towards the close of 2018, with Donald Trump's tax reforms proving to carry enough weight to ensure global markets look into the New Year with an optimistic impetus.
"Today has seen a focus upon the mining sector, with buoyant crude, gold and copper prices driving the commodity heavy FTSE 100 into fresh territory."
Oanda analyst Craig Erlam chipped in, adding: "This period between Christmas and New Year is often very quiet, with politicians and central banks endeavouring to wrap everything up ahead of the holiday period. With the US having got tax reform over the line last week and kicked the budget issue back to January at the last minute, investors have been left with little to turn their attention to."
Heavily-weighted miners were the standout gainers, with Fresnillo, Antofagasta, Glencore and BHP Billiton sitting at the top of the risers as copper prices hit a three-and-half year high amid news that Jiangxi Copper, the largest Chinese producer, had been told by Beijing to halt production for at least a week before further assessment to combat pollution levels. Prices were also underpinned by expectations of strong demand from China next year.
Retailers were also on the front foot following the Boxing Day sales. Figures revealed that while high street footfall fell compared to last year, online sales surged, helping the likes of Marks & Spencer, Burberry and Sainsburys to gain ground.
Shares of South Africa-exposed Mediclinic and Old Mutual were also near the top of the leaderboard, as the Rand strengthened to its best level year-to-date against the Greenback. As of 1819 GMT, the US dollar was down by 1.64% against the Rand at 12.3045.
FTSE 250 flexible office workspace provider IWG rocketed as it noted recent press speculation and confirmed it has received an indicative proposal from funds managed by affiliates of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management and Onex Corporation regarding a possible cash offer for the company.
Both Royal Dutch Shell and Barclays were in focus as they updated the market on the impact of the changes to US tax laws that kick in in January, which include a reduction in the corporate income tax rate to 21% from 35%.
Barclays edged up even after saying that annual pre-tax profit will be hit by a one-off charge of around £1bn, while the oil giant gushed a little higher as it said it expects the potential economic impact to be favourable to it and its US operations.
Business-to-business information company Ascential rallied after announcing the acquisition of e-commerce analytics group Clavis for up to $219m.
Great Portland Estates nudged up as it exchanged contracts to sell 30 Broadwick Street to a client of Savills IM for a headline price of £190m, equating to £186m after deductions for tenant incentives.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,397.00p 3.48%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,903.00p 3.09%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 638.00p 2.49%
Old Mutual (OML) 227.80p 2.47%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 984.50p 2.13%
Glencore (GLEN) 383.15p 2.06%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,270.00p 1.89%
Burberry Group (BRBY) 1,792.00p 1.88%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,955.00p 1.72%
Experian (EXPN) 1,622.00p 1.57%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Ferguson (FERG) 5,325.00p -1.84%
Sky (SKY) 1,000.00p -1.48%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 849.50p -1.16%
Worldpay Group (WPG) 424.00p -1.07%
Centrica (CNA) 137.40p -1.01%
Next (NXT) 4,535.00p -0.96%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,049.00p -0.77%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 234.20p -0.72%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,481.00p -0.72%
ITV (ITV) 164.00p -0.67%
FTSE 250 - Risers
IWG (IWG) 254.40p 27.07%
Vectura Group (VEC) 114.00p 8.16%
Provident Financial (PFG) 920.50p 4.01%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 375.60p 3.84%
Greencore Group (GNC) 230.60p 3.64%
Polymetal International (POLY) 917.50p 3.50%
Big Yellow Group (BYG) 861.50p 3.11%
Greene King (GNK) 549.00p 2.91%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 156.60p 2.89%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 838.50p 2.82%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Fidessa Group (FDSA) 2,514.00p -2.82%
Sirius Minerals (SXX) 22.93p -2.59%
RPC Group (RPC) 871.00p -2.24%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 1,229.00p -2.08%
Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT) 83.29p -1.82%
Clarkson (CKN) 2,790.00p -1.80%
Dignity (DTY) 1,773.00p -1.45%
Herald Investment Trust (HRI) 1,169.00p -1.10%
Pagegroup (PAGE) 466.00p -1.02%
Ibstock (IBST) 262.30p -1.02%