A surge in the share price of satellite broadcaster BSkyB helped propel Britain’s top share index to its fifth winning session on Christmas Eve ahead of the two-day festive break.
Shares in BSkyB jumped 2.5 per cent or 20.5p to 833p taking their gains so far this week to almost 5 per cent, amid fresh talk of a possible approach from Vodafone, aimed at bundling the groups’ broadband, TV and landline offers.
BSkyB also announced an investment worth $350,000 (£214,000) in Jaunt, a California-based technology company specialising in video capture and display.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed up 15.56 points at 6,694.17 in its fifth straight day of gains and marking its third-sharpest Christmas rally since its launch in 1984. The London market will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day following today’s shortened session.
Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said: “Lighter volumes are sure to be helping the Santa rally and making sure December closes positive, so beware of the possibility of a correction.”
The Footsie, which generates a quarter of its revenues from emerging markets, has risen by about 13 per cent this year, less than half the rise in the S&P as the United States economy improved and the dollar strengthened, causing volatility in emerging market currencies.
Jordan Hiscott, senior trader at Gekko Global Markets, reckons the UK blue-chip index will eke out further gains this year, though it could struggle to push through the 6,743 technical level.
Stocks on the front foot on Christmas Eve included British Airways-owner International Airlines Group after a rise of 6p to 400.8p, while housebuilder Persimmon was 17p stronger at 1,219p.
A number of retail stocks earned some relief from recent turbulence in the sector, with Sports Direct International up 9p to 726.5p and second-tier rival JD Sports Fashion ahead by 6 per cent or 82p to 1,426p.
However, Marks & Spencer was 1.6p lower at 445.5p after surrendering an initially strong start, while fashion chain Next was 10p lower at 5,435p.
Albemarle & Bond shares were down 4 per cent, off 0.75p at 18.5p, after turnaround firm Better Capital walked away from a potential offer for the cash-strapped pawnbroker. Albemarle said it remains in talks with other interested parties as it looks to secure a deal before a breach of financial covenants.