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Traders ring in the new year with strongest showing since July

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London’s FTSE 100 index replicated last year’s strong start on its first day of trading in 2022, racking up its best showing in six months.

The index added 120.61 points, fuelled by oil giants, the travel sector and some of the UK’s biggest banks.

The 1.6% increase to 7,505.15 points made it the FTSE’s best result since July 21, although it briefly looked like the index might have its best day since February.

“Investors seem to have discarded the worries about Omicron that plagued them in December, while for now the jitters about inflation and central bank policy appear to be far from everyone’s minds,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

“If the list of FTSE 100 gainers is anything to go by, then investors appear keen to put their money to work in dependable, dividend-paying stocks.

“(British Airways owner) IAG has surged on hopes air travel might return to normal sooner than feared, but otherwise it is banks, oil stocks and consumer spending that seems to populate the top gainers list today.

“In the US, tech is faltering after its good day yesterday, but in London investors appear to be putting their faith in a UK economic rebound.”

In Germany the Dax index rose 0.8% while Paris’s Cac 40 closed up 1.4%.

In New York the S&P bucked the trend, trading down 0.2% a little before European markets closed. The Dow Jones was up 0.7% at the same time.

On currency markets sterling lost ground, dropping 0.1% against the dollar, but was flat at 1.1986 against the euro. By the end of the day a pound could buy 1.3536 dollars.

In company news, shares in one of the UK’s biggest train and bus operators were suspended because its auditor needs more time to finish work on its full-year results.

Go-Ahead Group said it is working with Deloitte to make sure shareholders can see its performance for the year to July 2021.

The delays were caused by an investigation into its franchise Southeastern.

The Government took the franchise off Go-Ahead in October after the company admitted it had failed to run the line properly.

Budget airline Wizz Air said it carried around two million more passengers in December than in the same month a year earlier, despite the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The airline, which is based in Hungary but listed in London, flew 21.7 million passengers throughout last year, nearly a third more than in 2020.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were IAG, up 16.04p at 158.52p; BP, up 20.5p at 351p; Intercontinental Hotel Group, up 247p at 5,028p; Barclays, up 9.66p at 196.66p; and HSBC, up 22.85p at 471.5p.

The biggest fallers were Dechra Pharmaceuticals, down 465p at 4,860p; Ocado, down 122p at 1,556p; Fresnillo, down 40.2p at 852.6p; Segro, down 53p at 1,383.5p; and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, down 46p at 1,291.5p.

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