FTSE 'Santa Rally' gifts record close to London stocks

The British capital's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip firms won 0.4 percent from last Friday's close, as traders returned from a four-day holiday weekend.

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London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip firms closed at a record high Decemeber 28, 2016 play

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip firms closed at a record high Decemeber 28, 2016

(AFP/File)
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London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip firms closed at a record high Decemeber 28, 2016 play

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip firms closed at a record high Decemeber 28, 2016

(AFP/File)

London stocks closed at a record high Wednesday on a "Santa rally" in subdued trading after a long Christmas holiday, but Wall Street retreated from record highs.

The British capital's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip firms jumped 0.5 percent from Friday's close as traders returned from a four-day holiday weekend, ending at a record high of 7,106.08 points. That beat the previous record of 7,103.98 set in April 2015.

The "Santa rally bullishness appears to remain firm on hopes of an OPEC-led production cut and Trump stimulus," Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken told AFP, with rising oil prices boosting a number of FTSE 100 stocks.

Equity markets in Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo were nearly flat.

In the US, the Dow retreated from a charge at 20,000 points, while the Nasdaq pulled back from Tuesday's record close, losing 0.9 percent to 5,438.56.

Analysts described trading volume as light in the typically quiet week between Christmas and New Year, with many investors on holiday and little economic news to stir interest.

"I think when you get to the point where you've got a hurdle like Dow 20,000 it seems to take some time," said Bill Lynch, director of investment at Hinsdale Associates.

"There is a fair amount of profit taking when the stocks get closer to that milestone."

Rising commodity prices boosted mining companies on the London exchange.

Shares in Anglo American shot up 3.6 percent and BHP Billiton jumped 4.3 percent and Fresnillo soared 5.2 percent.

In Japan, shares of troubled conglomerate Toshiba plummeted more than 20 percent as the company said it may book a one-time loss of several billion dollars over its US nuclear business.

The exact figure of the potential write-down is still being worked out, Toshiba President Satoshi Tsunakawa told reporters after the announcement, apologising for "causing concern".

Among the US equities falling more than one percent were shares of Bank of America, Citigroup and Caterpillar, all of which had won outsized gains in the rally seen since the US election day.

Qualcomm fell 2.2 percent after South Korea's anti-trust watchdog fined the chip giant $850 million for abusing its dominant market position as a maker of baseband chipsets used in mobile phones. The San Diego company said it would approach the Seoul High Court to appeal the decision.

Key figures around 2200 GMT

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 19,833.68 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.8 percent at 2,249.92 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.9 percent at 5,438.56 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,106.08 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP less than 0.1 percent at 11,474.99 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 4,848.01 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,276.19

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 19,401.72 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 21,754.74 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,102.24 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0412 from $1.0457

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 117.20 yen from 117.45 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2216 from $1.2270

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 16 cents at $54.06 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 13 cents at $56.22 per barrel

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