Despite disappointing economic data coming out of the US, the FTSE 100 ended the session up 25.06 points at 6,838.06 – bringing the intra-day high of 6950.6 reached in December 1999 firmly into view.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “This week has seen the FTSE 100 outperform the rest of Europe quite strongly as it looks to push back concerns about a slowdown in economic growth across the globe.”
Leading the buoyant mood was mobile phone giant Vodafone, which gained 6.9p, or 3 per cent, to 236.5p as investors awaited their £51 billion windfall from the sale of its 45 per cent interest in Verizon Wireless.
IG market analyst David Madden said: “Vodafone shareholders are in a win-win position; the pay-out from the Verizon deal will come in the form of a dividend and Verizon shares. What is left of Vodafone could become a takeover target.”
Royal Bank of Scotland added 4.4p to 360.1p amid speculation that next week’s results could bring heavy job losses as part of a radical restructuring, while Barclays closed up 2.75p at 258p.
Broadcaster ITV, which also delivers full-year results next week, was among the biggest blue-chip fallers despite upbeat analyst sentiment, dropping 3.6p to 204.2p.
Royal Mail fell 9p to 600p after regulator Ofcom opened an investigation into a complaint by TNT Post UK about changes to Royal Mail’s access contracts, which are due to come into effect from the end of next month.