LONDON: London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index reached its highest level to date on the last day of trading for 2016. The move upwards was tiny – 22.5 points or 0.32% – but it left the FTSE at an unprecedented 7,142.83. The last trading day of the calendar year in London is a short one, with dealings ending at 12:30 GMT. Among the top 100 companies, there were no major daily moves. Rolls-Royce was the biggest faller, notching up a decline of 1.47%. Oil ended in London flat, with Brent at $56.67 a barrel. The commodity has almost doubled from this year’s low of $30 a barrel. Oil has gained 53% since the start of the year, the biggest annual rise since 2009, with the promise of production curbs from major oil-producing countries giving a late surge to the price.
Mining companies have largely been winning investments, in sterling terms, with many gaining about 30% over the year. The FTSE 100 has benefited from the fall in the pound since the Leave vote, because the many international companies whose shares are traded in the UK tend to benefit from it. Profits earned abroad by multinationals such as drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline and major mining companies are worth more when converted into sterling. That makes a company’s shares appear better value when compared with the higher profits it will make, prompting a revaluation of the stock. In currencies, the pound was up 0.48% against the dollar at $1.2310, but was flat against the euro at €1.1681. The Brexit vote dramatically weakened the worth of the pound against the dollar. At the start of the year – and in June on the eve of the Brexit vote – the pound was worth just short of $1.50.