FTSE CLOSE: Footsie finally steps over 1999 high

The number was surpassed despite the risks facing traders in the present day. Picture: Getty

The number was surpassed despite the risks facing traders in the present day. Picture: Getty

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A HELPING hand from Janet Yellen finally gave investors the confidence to push the Footsie into new territory.

The index made a slow start to the session but the Fed chair’s comments, coupled with modest progress in the EU’s negotiations with Greece, saw the FTSE 100 breach 1999’s intra-day and closing highs. It closed up 37.47 points for the session at 6,949.63, having briefly traded about 10 points higher still.

Tony Cross, market analyst at Trustnet Direct, said: “At long last the stars have aligned for equity investors. The FTSE-100 has finally broken through that 6,950.6 all-time intra-day high from the eve of the millennium – and that’s despite the plethora of risks that traders are facing right now.

“Critically however we’ve seen a conciliatory tone struck in the eurozone – they don’t want Greece to leave.”

The gains came despite the fact that the London market was far from being universally bullish – around one third of blue chip stocks ended the day in the red.

House builders were notable laggards after Persimmon expressed concern over the impact of the forthcoming General Election.

Despite the company reporting a 44 per cent rise in annual profits, shares dived by more than 3 per cent or 60p to 1,650p. Rival companies were also impacted, with Taylor Wimpey off 3.8p to 141.5p and Bovis Homes down 14.5p to 936.5p.

But with mining giant BHP Billiton reporting a smaller-than-expected 31 per cent drop in half-year profits, the heavyweight commodities sector led the gains and ensured a positive outcome for the wider index.

BHP added more than 6 per cent, up 96.5p at 1,643.5p as it also laid out cost-cutting plans, while Anglo American climbed 39p to 1,237p and Fresnillo added 24.5p at 827p.

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