Market Report: Santa Rally shows no signs of slowing


The Santa Rally shows no signs of slowing, with the top-flight index closing on its sixth day of gains, its best run since October.

Despite slim volumes, the FTSE closed up 56.7 points at 6,750.87, while Wall Street also hit fresh all-time highs. The run of gains marks the Footsie’s hottest winning streak in two months.

But the index wasn’t helped by a flat retail sector, with traders unimpressed by Boxing Day sales.

Despite frenzied efforts to pull punters away from their computer screens and into stores, the retail data firm Springboard revealed that just 0.5 per cent more shoppers visited the Boxing Day sales compared with a year earlier. Meanwhile research by IBM showed that online shopping rose 40 per cent this year.

Marks & Spencer added 4p to 449.5p; Debenhams ticked up 0.2p to 81.6p, Next was up 20p to 5,455p, Argos owner Home Retail Group stepped up 1.3p to 191.3p, and B&Q owner Kingfisher slid 1.9p to 385.1p. And despite Dixons’ chief executive Sebastian James tweeting that this Boxing Day was its “biggest sales day EVER”, the electrical retailer short-circuited 0.5p to 48.48p.

The mining sector saw the biggest gains, helping the index upwards. Fresnillo topped the Footsie, adding 25.5p to 735p, while Antofagasta dug up 25.5p to 830.5p and Glencore Xstrata piled up 7.65p to 315.7p.

Both BSkyB and Vodafone were also up after rumours that Vodafone may make a bid for the broadcaster in order to defend against a possible takeover by AT&T.

Marc Kimsey, senior trader at Accendo Markets, said: “Traders are buying into the Vodafone-BSkyB story and with good reason. The move will keep AT&T at arm’s length, but it needs to happen quickly. The US telecoms giant has been doing its homework for some time. A Q1 advance cannot be ruled out.”

BSkyB added 11.5p to 844.5p while Vodafone was up 1.55p to 237.95p.

On the midcap index, International Personal Finance saw shares collapse after revealing a £2.4m fine from the Polish authorities over the way it calculated APR. International Personal Finance fell 84.8p to 455.2p.