Market Report: Christmas shot in the arm after a year of turbulence

 

As "Santa rallies" go, this year's has hardly been much to write home – or even to the North Pole – about.

Yet the Square Mile managed to enjoy some festive cheer yesterday in the last trading action before Christmas as the Footsie rose strongly for the second straight day in a row.

Traditionally the FTSE 100 has enjoyed December, having risen nearly 7 per cent during the month last year and more than 4 per cent in 2009. At one point, however, it looked as if this year would be rather different especially after it slumped more than 200 points in only six sessions earlier in the month.

Yet, when the bell rang at lunchtime yesterday at the end of a half-day trading session, the benchmark index was 55.73 points better off at 5,512.7, meaning that – with its having gained more than 65 points on Thursday – it is now back in positive territory for December.

Volumes were light, unsurprisingly but those who did make it into the City were still enjoying a boost from the generally positive economic data that came out of the US in the week, and the lack of any news regarding the eurozone was also being welcomed.

"No one wants to think about the unresolved problems in Europe, and who can really blame them?", asked IG Index's Chris Beauchamp.

"Everyone knows that the debt crisis will still be there for them when they struggle back to work bleary-eyed on Wednesday morning."

A number of the commodity stocks managed to rise, including BP. The oil giant shot up 9.4p to 459.7p after revealing its non-executive director Brendan Nelson had bought more than 11,000 shares at 449p a pop.

There was clearly an air of caution, as shown by the defensive companies being in vogue – Severn Trent advanced 27p to 1,481p, and the brewers SAB Miller and Diageo frothed up 48.5p to 2,238p and 20p to 1,378p respectively.

Shire, meanwhile, was bumped up 21p to 2,188p as the drugs maker stayed on course to end the year as the top performing blue-chip stock, having added more than 40 per cent this year.

It has been a strong 12 months for the pharmaceuticals companies in general, and Merchant Securities' Navid Malik pointed out that on the Stoxx 600 index of European countries, the healthcare sector has been by far the best performer.

There were some encouraging comments for the banks regarding Sir John Vickers'recommendations, which include calls for the sector to ringfence their retail operations. The groups had been knocked by the Government's recent approval of the findings, but Goldman Sachs claimed that on closer examination things weren't as bad as they first looked.

Arguing that the Government's response was actually a "moderate watering down of [the] proposed reforms", the broker's analysts said that as a result they had cut their forecasts for what costs the banks will face from the reforms.

They also reiterated their "conviction buy" advice on HSBC, which crept up 1.5p to 490.05p.

Barclays, however, was even higher, moving ahead 2.9p to 179p despite the analysts saying they still believed it would be the worst hit by the reforms.

Having added more than 10 per cent on Thursday, Carpetright was left near the foot of the FTSE 250, slipping 18p to 490p. It was hit by cautious comments from its AIM-listed rival United Carpets, which was pegged back 0.25p to 5.75p after it released interim results.

The team at Perform have clearly been busy The digital sports rights firm signed a deal with the Women's Tennis Association earlier in the week, and yesterday it announced it had acquired a number of German businesses which it said would boost earnings next year, although the company retreated 5p to 205p nonetheless.

Galliford Try was lifted 9.5p to 463p as, for the first time , Panmure Gordon's Mark Hughes picked it as his top sector tip for the year ahead for the second time in a row. The group managed to rise more than 50 per cent over 2011, and Mr Hughes was hopeful for the same again, saying it would be boosted by growing demand in the South of England.

With its management saying that although sale discussions were ongoing, any potential bidder was unlikely to make an offer for its shares, tents and sleeping bags retailer Blacks Leisure slumped 57.14 per cent to 0.75p.

Also struggling on the fledgling index was SkyePharma, which shifted down 15.92 per cent to 33p as it was told it could have wait up to another nine months to discover whether its asthma therapy Flutiform will get approval after the decision was referred to the European Drugs Agency.

FTSE 100 Risers

CRH 1,253p (up 27p, 2.2 per cent)

Irish building materials firm completes a positive first week as a blue-chip stock, having gained more than 8 per cent since gaining entry to the benchmark index.

Vodafone 176.3p (up 2.75p, 1.59 per cent)

Mobile giant rises as Bharti Airtel, one of its rivals in India, attacks the Indian government's stance against sharing 3G airwaves in the country as "arbitrary".

FTSE 100 Fallers

Lloyds Banking Group 25.69p (down 0.16p, 0.62 per cent)

Bank ends up with the wooden spoon, bringing an end to its three-day winning streak over which time it managed to rise more than 10 per cent.

Old Mutual 135.3p (down 0.3p, 0.22 per cent)

Insurance company finishes up as one of only nine blue-chip stocks in the red, coming after its strong recent gains in the wake of a number of disposals

FTSE 250 Risers

SuperGroup 531p (up 29p, 5.78 per cent)

Fashion clothing retailer given a boost by some last-minute shopping from investors, although its share price has still dropped more than 50 per cent since September.

London & Stamford 108.8p (up 3.9p, 3.72 per cent)

Property investor finishes high up the mid-tier index's leaderboard after agreeing a disposal of assets which Blackstone will pay £265m for.

FTSE 250 Fallers

Ocado 56.75p (down 2.25p, 3.81 per cent)

Online grocer closes as the worst performing stock on the FTSE 250, after having seen its share price jump almost 12 per cent during trading on Thursday.

Home Retail 82.8p (down 0.7p, 0.84 per cent)

Argos-owner retreats after a strong advance earlier in the week, which was partly thanks to the revival yet again of vague takeover speculation.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Junior Asset Manager

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Junior As...

Investment Analyst

£33000 - £40000 Per Annum Discretionary profit share: The Green Recruitment Co...

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £45000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

PMO Analyst - Risk - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Risk - Banking - London - £350 - £4...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?