London open: Stocks build on recent highs in quiet trade
London stocks edged a little higher early on Friday on the last trading day of the year - a half day - building on the fresh records seen this week amid low volumes, with little in the way of corporate news and no economic data to provide any momentum.
At 0850 GMT, the FTSE 100 was up 0.1% to 7,632.05, having risen to a new record high of 7,636.67 earlier, above the intraday high reached the day before. On Thursday, the index crept to a fresh record close of 7,622.88.
Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken said: “Bulls need a break above yesterday’s early record peak of 7,635 to extend an already generous 4.6% Santa rally from 7300 on 8 Dec. Bears are equally eager for any downside test of 7,615 that could trigger a retrace.”
At the same time, the pound was up 0.2% versus the euro at 1.1280 and 0.4% higher against the dollar at 1.3496.
In corporate news, Balfour Beatty was in the red after saying it will pay down debt and its full year results will be higher than recently guided after it sold off another chunk of its stake in Connect Plus, the company which operates the M25 orbital motorway. The infrastructure construction specialist sold a 7.5% stake for £62m cash, making an expected £32m profit, to funds managed by Dalmore Capital. Following sales to Dalmore at an identical price earlier this month, Balfour now has a 20% stake in the M25 operating business.
Low-cost airline Wizz Air flew higher as it completed and signed documentation with Airbus which, amongst other things, provides for the purchase of 146 Airbus A320neo Family aircraft. This purchase will enable Wizz to deliver on its fleet replacement and expansion plans and to continue delivering strong growth for the next decade.
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was lifted by an upgrade to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’ at JPMorgan Cazenove.
Just Eat was the top riser, rallying after its shares had lost almost 5% over the past month.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Just Eat (JE.) 775.50p 2.04%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 5,065.00p 1.33%
NMC Health (NMC) 2,873.00p 1.20%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 2,495.00p 0.89%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 3,780.00p 0.85%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,800.00p 0.84%
Old Mutual (OML) 226.70p 0.80%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,887.50p 0.76%
BHP Billiton (BLT) 1,510.00p 0.70%
Worldpay Group (WPG) 425.70p 0.69%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Diageo (DGE) 2,676.00p -0.69%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 217.70p -0.68%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,484.00p -0.60%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 2,817.00p -0.56%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 621.50p -0.56%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 240.60p -0.54%
WPP (WPP) 1,344.00p -0.52%
Persimmon (PSN) 2,725.05p -0.51%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 374.20p -0.51%
Mediclinic International (MDC) 640.50p -0.47%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Entertainment One Limited (ETO) 326.80p 3.75%
Acacia Mining (ACA) 196.70p 3.25%
Vectura Group (VEC) 125.07p 2.94%
Grafton Group Units (GFTU) 809.50p 2.15%
Dignity (DTY) 1,789.25p 2.01%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 249.70p 1.92%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 872.25p 1.54%
AA (AA.) 174.80p 1.51%
CYBG (CYBG) 337.50p 1.44%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 340.90p 1.43%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
PZ Cussons (PZC) 320.00p -1.99%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 673.50p -1.17%
ZPG Plc (ZPG) 325.90p -1.15%
Inchcape (INCH) 773.50p -1.15%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 142.90p -1.04%
Sanne Group (SNN) 798.30p -0.83%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 649.00p -0.76%
Indivior (INDV) 402.60p -0.72%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,712.00p -0.70%
esure Group (ESUR) 252.90p -0.63%