London’s premier index delivered its longest ever record closing streak thanks to more lacklustre trading from the Brexit-hit pound.
The FTSE 100 Index closed at an all-time high for the ninth consecutive session, jumping 37.7 points to 7,275.47 as “hard Brexit” fears continued to loom over sterling.
Beating its previous run of eight consecutive record closes in May 1997, the top flight also pushed to a new mid-session record of 7,284.81, continuing its remarkable start to 2017.
Britain’s sickly currency was the fuel behind the index’s heady rise on Tuesday after sterling dropped to a 13-week low against the US dollar at 1.212.
Investors were reacting to comments made on Monday by German chancellor Angela Merkel, who stepped up pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit, saying the EU must consider limiting UK access to the European single market if it fails to accept free movement of EU citizens.
She added there must be no negotiations based on “cherry picking” of the EU’s four freedoms of movement for capital, goods, services and people.
The pound regained some poise versus the greenback during afternoon trading, rising by a marginal 0.02% to 1.216. Sterling also edged 0.1% higher against the euro at 1.150.
The pound’s fall since the Brexit vote has proved beneficial for multinational companies listed on the index, as many tend to benefit from earnings in currencies – such as the US dollar – which are performing more strongly than sterling.
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Landsdown, said the FTSE 100 had risen for an eleventh session on the bounce, matching the longest winning streak the index has ever produced.
“The stock market moves down as well as up, but you wouldn’t have guessed that if you’d been keeping your eye on the FTSE for the last few weeks.
“While the FTSE 100 stands at a record level, valuations on the UK stock market are not at abnormally high levels once you factor in the earnings produced by UK companies.
“What’s more, the headline index doesn’t account for dividends, which are a key element of returns from the UK stock market, and are particularly attractive when interest rates are so low.”
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s Dax closed up 0.2% and the Cac 40 in France was flat.
On the oil markets, the price of Brent crude fell 1.3% to 54.23 US dollars a barrel amid growing concerns over the Opec cartel’s ability to drive through production cuts to support prices.
In UK stocks, Morrisons climbed more than 3% after the chain upped its full-year profit outlook following better-than-expected sales in the nine weeks to January 1.
Shares were up 8.6p to 246p, as the 2.9% surge in like-for-like sales marked its best festive performance for seven years.
Majestic Wine soared close to 8%, or 25.5p to 349.5p, after reporting its best ever Christmas trading, with like-for-like sales up 7.5% in the 10 weeks to January 2.
However, Trinity Mirror eased back, dropping 0.5p to 97p, as the publisher of the Daily Mirror newspaper confirmed talks were under way to acquire a minority stake in Daily Express publisher Northern & Shell.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Anglo American up 83p to 1,237.5p, Tesco up 12.1p to 213p, Rio Tinto up 160.5p to 3,293.5p, Whitbread up 186p to 4,051p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Direct Line Insurance down 11p to 357p, Admiral Group down 48p to 1,780p, DCC down 110p to 6,095p, National Grid down 16.1p to 934.6p.
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