MARKET REPORT: Footsie record-breaking bid knocked off course

The FTSE 100 missed the opportunity to reclaim its all-time high this week after turbulent trading and rocky results scuppered hopes. 

The large-cap index gained 0.30 per cent, or 23.30 points, to 7770.59 yesterday, recouping some of Thursday’s losses, but slumped about 1 per cent over the week as wider economic woes weigh heavy on investor confidence. 

Missed opportunity: The UK’s premier index flew out of the blocks in early January, rising by more than 5 per cent

The UK’s premier index flew out of the blocks in early January, rising by more than 5 per cent and putting it within touching distance of a record closing high of 7877 but for now the champagne is still on ice. 

Among the risers was energy giant SSE, which climbed to the top of the footsie in early morning trade. Not only did the British power firm raise profit expectations following price hikes, but it also recommended a full-year dividend of 85.7p per share for fiscal 2023 with another 5 per cent increase in 2025 and 2026. 

Shares were up 2.9 per cent, or 48.5p, to 1750.5p, representing a two-month high for the energy giant. Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: ‘UK markets continued to fly the flag, dodging the recessionary bullet fears for the time being. 

‘The FTSE100 was buoyed by a return to risk-on behaviour, with the miners and oil majors especially in demand.’ 

Among miners, Rio Tinto rose 1 per cent, or 62p, to 6213p, and Anglo American gained 0.1 per cent, or 2.5p, to 3566p. Energy giant Shell inched up 0.1 per cent, or 2.5p, to 2363p and BP lifted 0.2 per cent, or 1.15p, to 475.85p. 

The top index also managed to shrug off weak retail sales figures, which showed a 1 per cent slump in December, against expectations for a rise of 0.5 per cent. The ONS said December’s sales volumes were 1.7 per cent below their pre-pandemic level in February 2020. 

But this did not weigh the London-listed retailers down. JD Sports soared, still clearly feeling the afterglow of last week’s news that profits were set to top £1billion in the pre-Christmas period. 

The trainer and tracksuit retailer gained 2.8 per cent, or 4.25p, to 157p. 

And despite Covid curbs in China and tightening consumer spend, luxury retailer Burberry was another top mover, climbing 2.4 per cent, or 55p, to 2358p, as investors appear unfazed by the downbeat retail figures. 

Meanwhile, Asos led the way on the FTSE 250 (up 0.66 per cent, or 128.52 points, to 19702.63) after Bank America said it was now a buyer of the fast-fashion retailer, as well as rival Boohoo. Asos soared by 11.1 per cent, or 78p, to 778p and Boohoo shot up 8.5 per cent, or 3.59p, to 46p. 

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said: ‘The UK large-cap index has sharply outperformed the mid-cap FTSE 250 index over the last year which has been much more closely correlated to the UK’s economic and political uncertainty. 

‘The FTSE 100 is an outward-looking index which has enjoyed gains thanks to certain sectors which have benefitted from rising energy prices and interest rates.’ 

But the power appeared to lay in the hands of brokers yesterday. 

Upgrades boosted both 3i Group, the private equity firm, and Flutter Entertainment, the gambling giant that owns Paddy Power and Betfair, by a respective 3.3 per cent, or 47p, to 1462.5p and 2.5 per cent, or 300p, to 12,565p. 

But AstraZeneca also faced the wrath after analysts at Stifel warned that the pharmaceutical firm may have a more difficult year ahead than expected. 

The Anglo-Swedish pharma giant could lose as much as £2.4billion in sales of Covid-19 products, including vaccine and treatments, between 2022 and 2023, the investment bank said. Shares fell 1.9 per cent, or 220p, to 11,200p.