Risers and fallers: Kazakhmys claims Footsie crown for 2009

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The Independent Online

Kazakhmys was the strongest performing blue chip of 2009, advancing by more than 470 per cent as commodity prices ticked higher.

The mining group, which began the year at around 250p, saw its share price swell to 1328p over the last 12 months as copper prices, supported by factors such the weakness in the US dollar and strong growth in the Chinese economy, bounced back by around 140 per cent. Worries about inflation and signs of stockpiling in China also played their part in the driving metals prices back from their lows at the end of 2008, and in turn ensured strong gains for mining equities such as Kazakhmys.

Indeed, of the top 10 blue chips of the year, eight hail from the mining sector. Vedanta Resources, which rose by more than 300 per cent over the last twelve months, took the number two spot and Fresnillo, which strengthened by around 244 per cent, claimed third place. Xstrata, which fielded, but later abandoned, a proposal to merge with Anglo American in 2009, took the number four spot with a 209.4 per cent rise. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, up around 177 per cent, was number six, while Rio Tinto, up around 175 per cent, was number seven and Antofagasta, up around 133 per cent, took the number nine spot.

Lonmin also made the top 10, rising by around 125 per cent as platinum prices rallied. The stock also benefited from the management's efforts to put the company on a firmer footing. "Management has taken a number of tough decisions, and we believe the business is now better positioned than it was 12 months ago," Investec said in a recent circular. "This should stand Lonmin in good stead for the sustained recovery in platinum group metals prices we expect in the medium term."

Beyond the mining sector, Petrofac, at fifth place, fared the best. The oil services group, which recently published a strong trading statement, strengthened by just over 200 per cent over the last 12 months. Besides a strong showing by the company, the stock has also benefited from gains in the price of oil. As with metals, crude prices rallied strongly in response to the weakness in the US dollar, boosting oil-related stocks. Burberry, at eighth place with a rise of around 170 per cent, represented the retail sector. Despite their failure to make the top 10, Burberry's peers have enjoyed a strong year. The FTSE 350 general retail index, for instance, rallied by more than 75 per cent as recovery hopes took root, with FTSE 250-listed Debenhams and DSG International gaining around 225 per cent and around 182 per cent respectively. Of the blue chip retailers, Next saw its shares rocket by more than 92 per cent over the last 12 months, while retail bellwether Marks & Spencer rallied by more than 87 per cent.

Turning to the downside, the Royal Bank of Scotland took the wooden spoon on the FTSE 100. The bank, which is majority owned by the British taxpayer, and which this year signed up to the Government's Asset Protection Scheme, slumped by almost 41 per cent, beating Lloyds Banking Group, which, with a loss of almost 19 per cent, was the sixth worst performing blue chip of 2009.

Commercial property issues also endured a tough year, with Segro, which recently completed its exit from retail property by selling its stake in two shopping centres to British Land, falling by just over 22 per cent, and Land Securities declining by almost 18 per cent. Wolseley, the plumbing materials company which has been hit by the decline in construction here and in the US, shed around 22 per cent of its value over 2009.

Other losers on the FTSE 100 included United Utilities, down almost 21 per cent over the year, and Severn Trent, which was down over 9 per cent. Resolution, which acquired Friends Provident, lost more than 19 per cent of its value, while RSA Insurance slumped by more than 12 per cent. Cable & Wireless, which plans to de-merge its Worldwide division in 2010, was also in the bottom 10, falling by more than 9 per cent over the last 12 months.

In the wider market, housing sector stocks performed well, with Taylor Wimpey, up almost 280 per cent, rallying its way into the FTSE 250 top 10. Its peers, though not as strong, also enjoyed a year of gains as housing prices began to stabilise and then rise. Barratt Developments, for instance, is now around 170 per cent stronger than at the beginning of 2009, while Persimmon rose by around 104 per cent.

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