Drumroll please: This was the best performing FTSE 100 stock of 2016 and, hint, it's a miner

Francesca Washtell
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Get some glitter confetti out for Anglo American (Source: Getty)

It's been a tumultuous year for global markets, but you might not have realised that by looking at the FTSE 100.

The blue-chip index has largely brushed aside concerns over Brexit and the US election to hit its highest ever close yesterday, when it reached 7,106.08 points.

Many of the FTSE 100's best days this year have been driven by mining stocks, as miners, as well as banks and oil giants, are some of the index's biggest firms. And of these miners, one has stood out above the rest to be the FTSE's best-performing overall stock of 2016.

And that company was... Anglo American.

Read more: Shares lift but copper drags at mining giant Anglo American

From a price per share of 277.9p on 1 January to close at 1,165.5p yesterday, Anglo's stock has risen by almost 320 per cent in the year-to-date.

At its lowest day-average, it hit 221.1p in late January (though in intra-day trading on 26 January it hit an all-time low of around 215p), and at its highest it reached 1,252p in late November and early December.

Read more: All that glitters: Anglo American's diamond unit reports rising sales

However, Anglo's stock is just recouping earlier losses, trading at the same point now as it was in early 2015 (see below chart).

Anglo's shares were the worst performer on the FTSE 100 in 2015, however they've nearly tripled so far this year, due to stronger metals prices, in a phoenix-from-the-ashes upswing.

Read more: Anglo American nabs its new finance boss from Aussie rival

It's also a far-cry from the heydays of the last few years, when Anglo's stock was valued at 2,910p per share in February 2012.

Shares were boosted in April, when boss Mark Cutifani sought to assure shareholders that the firm was making progress with its turnaround plan and shareholders had a mini revolt on pay packets, leading Anglo to say it will reassess its pay policy for 2017.

Anglo has historically produced a wide range of metals and natural resources through gold, platinum, diamonds, coal and industrial minerals to timber and coal from operations in Africa, Europe, South and North America and Australia.

Read more: Anglo American under pressure to hive off its South African operations

However, it is now angling to streamline its business, focusing on diamonds, platinum and copper, which will mean offloading non-core assets in thermal coal and iron ore.

The heavily indebted miner has also promised to cut its net borrowing below $10bn this year through cost-cutting exercises, operational improvements and the sale of non-core assets.

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