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FTSE hits two-year high as miners drag index up

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A roaring performance from London’s mining giants helped push the capital’s main index to its highest close in almost two years on Wednesday.

After briefly pushing above 7,560 points, the FTSE 100 ended the day on 7,551.72, a rise of more than 60 points, and 0.8% higher than where it started the day.

It is the highest closing score that the index has managed to reach since January 24, 2020, a day when the director general of the World Health Organisation called Covid an “emergency in China” which “has not yet become a global health emergency.”

“It may yet become one,” he prophetically warned at the time.

Just weeks later, global stock markets went into meltdown as cases of the disease continued to spread around the world.

The FTSE has now recovered to its pre-pandemic levels, a journey that took much longer than for many of its global peers.

On Wednesday, its rise was pushed by the mining giants, who were buoyed by rising prices for the resources they produce.

“European markets have continued to push higher, with the FTSE 100 once again outperforming, as it continues its 2022 outperformance, rising to another post pandemic peak … with the basic resource sector helping to drive the bulk of today’s gains, as surging nickel and copper prices help to drive advances in the likes of Antofagasta, BHP and Anglo American,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Across the channel the Cac 40 rose 0.8%, while in Frankfurt the Dax index added 0.4%.

In the US, the S&P 500 was trading up 0.2%, while the Dow Jones had gained 0.1% shortly after markets closed in Europe.

Sterling dropped 0.1% against the euro while rising by the same amount against the dollar. By the end of the day one pound could be exchanged for 1.3702 dollars or 1.1979 euros.

Retailers dominated London’s reports from companies.

JD Sports said it had an excellent Black Friday and Christmas, citing an “extremely robust performance,” which flew in the face of worried about the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Its sales meant that it could upgrade its £810 million pre-tax profit expectation to £875 million for the year which ends in less than three weeks’ time

But investors did not award this performance, sending shares down by 1.2%.

“This seems a rather odd reaction and could well be down to management’s caution over the profit outlook for 2023, which they expected to be in line with this year’s number, although that is still ahead of market consensus,” Mr Hewson said.

Just Eat was able to convert success on the streets into success on the stock market as its shares jumped 3.7% after bosses reported a jump in sales.

Orders rose by a third in 2021, the company said, hitting 1.1 billion in just a year. It meant more than £23 billion in sales, which is nearly a third higher than last year.

Orders rose by more than half in the UK and Ireland, the company’s best performing area.

For Sainsbury’s there was a 3.2% share price rise to celebrate after it said that profits will be better than expected thanks to food and drink sales spiking due to the Omicron outbreak last month.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta, up 100.5p to 1,442.5p, BHP, up 101.5p to 2,375p, Anglo American, up 125.5p to 3,364.5p, Glencore, up 13.45p to 401.25p, and BP, up 11.85p to 336.6p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Taylor Wimpey, down 8p to 161.8p, United Utilities, down 61p to 1,277.5p, Barratt Developments, down 24p to 685p, JD Sports, down 7p to 211.5p, and Ocado, down 45p to 1,527p.

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