FTSE finishes 2016 in style, sets record high

People walk through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File photo - RTSS1J0

Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index .FTSE closed 2016 at a record high level on Friday, with a blistering rally in mining stocks and a sharp fall in sterling after June’s shock Brexit vote boosting the market.

The benchmark index, dominated by global companies, closed 0.3 percent higher at a life-time peak of 7,142.83 points on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 7,129.83 set in October this year. It surged 14.4 percent in 2016, outperforming major European indexes by a big margin.

The pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index fell around 1.6 percent in 2016, while Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB .FTMIB slumped about 10 percent. Germany’s DAX .GDAXI and France’s CAC .FCHI were up 6.9 percent and 4.7 percent respectively.

Analysts said a sharp fall in sterling boosted the index’s export-oriented companies, which generate a large portion of their revenues in dollars. The resilience of the economy also helped in improving sentiment.

“The latest GDP figures point to a strong UK economy which has probably accounted for some of the pick-up in equity prices overall since the referendum,” said Yael Selfin, head of macroeconomics at KPMG UK.

“So far major UK stocks appear to have defied pre-referendum predictions … Most market watchers and participants agree this is thanks to the fall in sterling since 23 June as a number of the UK’s largest companies generate a large portion of their revenues in dollars,” KPMG said.

The FTSE’s climb was also due to a strong rally in the mining sub-index .FTNMX1770, which jumped 101.5 percent in 2016 on stronger metals prices and expectations that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will keep his election pledge to boost infrastructure spending in the United States.

However, the country’s domestically-focused mid-cap index .FTMC ended 0.3 percent higher on the day. It recorded a 3.7 percent gain for the year, underperforming the FTSE 100, as domestic firms did not get the benefit of a weaker currency. Concerns about higher inflation also hurt sentiment.

Shares in miner Anglo American (AAL.L) have surged 287 percent in 2016, followed by a 207 percent jump in miner and trader Glencore (GLEN.L) and a 72 percent rise in global diversified miner BHP Billiton (BLT.L).

Energy stocks also performed well this year following a recovery in crude oil prices, with the UK oil and gas index .FTNMX0530 spiking 50 percent in 2016.

The second half of 2016 also saw a sharp rebound in banking stocks as an improving global economic outlook, a rising U.S. rate environment and hopes of a lower level of regulation in the United States after Trump’s victory prompted investors to return to so called cyclical stocks.

The UK banking index .FTNMX8350 surged nearly 40 percent in the second half, and closed the year up more than 8 percent.

[Source:- Reuters]