All quiet despite FTSE passing 6,000

LONDON FTSE 100 CLOSE 5,996.07 +12.58

The FTSE 100 index edged past the 6,000 mark for the first time since June 2008 yesterday before losing momentum and closing just under the key milestone.

Trading had gathered pace during the day but with volumes thin ahead of the Christmas holidays and little in the way of corporate or UK economic news, stocks struggled to push much higher and the Footsie closed up 12.58 points at 5,996.07.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Investors were subdued by economic data from the US, which revealed a bigger-than-expected drop in durable-goods orders and a smaller-than-projected increase in consumer spending for November.

A threat by North Korea to embark on a "sacred war" against the South using nuclear weapons also shook confidence, but not enough to stop the FTSE 100 hitting that all-important mark.

Oil giant BP was among the blue chip stocks making gains in London, climbing 6.7p to 476.7p, after oil prices approached a two-year high, boosted by data showing a drop in US oil stocks ahead of an unexpected surge in global demand.

Retailers were also prominent on the risers board, with hopes high for yesterday to mark the busiest shopping day in the UK as consumers scramble to make last-minute Christmas purchases.

Marks & Spencer rose 1.4p to 374.4p, while B&Q parent Kingfisher added 5.6p to 263.7p and supermarket Sainsbury's lifted 4.7p to 381.7p.

The retail sector has had a poor run recently as the severe weather has kept potential shoppers away from the high street.

The travel sector has also felt the pinch of the cold weather, as traders were shaken by the impact that flight cancellations would have on the industry.

British Airways fell 0.4p to 273.2p, but TUI Travel raced to the top of the risers' board and added 6p to 247.5p.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Capita Group shares gained 3.5p to 708.5p after the outsourcing giant unveiled two takeover deals worth a combined 128.5 million as it ramps up acquisitions.

The firm bought SunGard Public Sector Holdings for 86m and hotel booking and meetings management agency BSI for 42.5m.

Outside the FTSE 100, transport group National Express was up 1.1p to 246.1p, after announcing it had won an extension to run its c2c London to Tilbury and Southend rail franchise for up to another two years.

The decision from the Department for Transport is welcome news after National Express had to return the loss-making East Coast franchise into state hands in November 2009.

Parkmead, the oil and gas consultancy company where ex-Dana chief executive Tom Cross has recently become chairman, saw further strong gains in the wake of two new non-executive directors joining the board.

Shares moved up 3p, or 19.7p per cent, at 18.25p, a record closing high.

Shares in IT recruitment firm InterQuest edged up 1p to 60.5p after entreprenuer Luke Johnson sold his stake in the AIM-quoted company.His 3.03m shares were placed at an average price of 53p a share.

An acquisition by Microsoft-based business solutions provider K3 Business Technology saw its shares move up 1.5p to 189.5p.