FTSE hits all-time closing high as miners fly

London stocks inched beyond their midday gains through the afternoon with flying miners helping the blue-chip ladder hit a fresh all-time closing high in what is a shortened week of trade between Christmas and New Year.

Oil and pharma stocks also advanced.

Fresnillo (FRES) led blue-chip winners with a gain of 5.22% to 1170p, and was chased by fellow gold-sensitive play Randgold (RRS), ahead 4.84% to 6117.5p. Also up were BHP Billiton, ahead 4.29% to 1311.5p, and Anglo American (AAL), rising 3.55% to 1165.5p, among other sector pals.

At 4.40pm, gold was up 0.12% to 1140.4/oz, while silver rose 0.48% to $16.07/oz. Copper fell 0.32% to 250.75 cents a pound. Trader sentiment towards the outlook for metal prices was chipper. WTI crude was up 0.5% to $54.17/bbl and Brent was up 0.46% to $56.35/bbl.

Oil majors firmed but were well off the metal burrowers’ pace. BP (BP.) added 1.13% to 508.7p, while Shell (RDSA) improved 0.89% to 2233.25p. Meantime, pharmas featured after Shire (SHP), up 1.76% to 4628.25p, while Smith & Nephew (SN.) rose 0.91% to 1214p.

At the close, FTSE 100 was up 37.91 points, or 0.54%, to 7106.08, an all-time closing higher. FTSE 250 was up 103.22, or 0.58%, to 18,012.8, a level last seen in mid October. Overall, blue-chip winners outnumbered fallers 55 to 45.

To the downside it was commercial property in focus, led lower by Land Securities (LAND), down 2.9% to 1039p, and British Land (BLND), off 2.89% to 622.5p. Airlines looped lower after IAG (IAG), down 2.72% to 444.75p, and easyJet (EZJ), off 2.03% to 1014p.

House builders and utility stocks were also notable among the blue-chip fallers’ list, with supermarkets and leisure also relatively prominent.

BIGGER MOVERS

Bellzone Mining (BZM), up 85.71% to 0.39p, said agreement has been reached with Hudson Global Group Ltd, which has a 61.93% shareholding, regarding the company’s working capital funding for 2017.

Graphene NanoChem (GRPH), up 17.62% to 10.88p, has announced a significant contract win with the receipt of its first commercial order and deployment of PlatDrill in China, tapping into the new burgeoning market for shale gas development in the south-west region of China.

Urals Energy (UEN), up 9.09% to 3p, said that, further to its announcement in August, the loan provided by Kamchatcomagroprombank (KKAPB) for the acquisition of Arctic Oil Company Ltd has now been repaid in full.

ECONOMIC NEWS

The US pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 2.5% to 107.3 in November, from 110.0 in October. After last month’s decrease in activity, the index is now 0.4% below last November and is at its lowest reading since January.

LONDON HIGHLIGHTS

Nostra Terra (NTOG), up 5.26% to 2p, has announced the results of its internal reserves report for the Pine Mills oil field together with a strategy update.

Sports Direct International (SPD), up 2.5% to 279.2p, has entered into an agreement to sell its rights to the Dunlop brand and related wholesale and licensing businesses to Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd (SRI) for $137.5m cash.

Loxam has agreed an increased recommended all cash offer of 260 pence for Lavendon (LVD), up 2.23% to 263.25p. This follows a second increased offer of 251p per share announced by TVH on 23 December.

boohoo.com (BOO), up 3.21% to 136.5p, has agreed to acquire certain intellectual property assets from retailer Nasty Gal Inc for $20m.

Mortice (MORT), up 0.53% to 94p, has posted an H1 pretax profit of $3.1m, which is up from a profit of $313,580 a year ago. Total income was $91.9m, from $51.2m.

Tullett Prebon (TLPR), down 0.71% to 417.1p, confirms that 310.3m new shares, or about 56% of its issued capital, will be issued to the shareholders of NEX Group (NXG), up 0.7% to 465.25p. This was in connection with Tullett Prebon’s acquisition of NEX’s global hybrid voice broking and information business.

Other stocks in the news included Windar Photonics (WPHO), Tekcapital (TEK), Riverstone Energy (RSE), Intercede (IGP), Harworth (HWG), Randall & Quilter Investment (RQIH), Georgia Healthcare (GHG), International Public Partnerships (INPP), Aurum Mining (AUR), TCS Group (TCSA) and EFG Hermes (EFGD).

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