London's top share index hit a fresh all-time high yesterday, setting a record for the longest winning streak in FTSE 100 history.
The blue-chip benchmark soared above 7,326 during intra-day trading, before settling at 7,290.49 by the close.
The FTSE got a boost from the falling pound early in the day, when official figures revealed a widening trade deficit and dragged sterling to $1.205. The international activities of many FTSE giants mean sterling-profits are bolstered by a weaker pound, pushing up the index.
An afternoon jump in the value of sterling against the dollar, and a decline in pharmaceutical stocks – both triggered by President-elect Donald Trump’s bizarre press conference – weighed on the FTSE. Nonetheless, the index still closed up for a 12th consecutive day, a feat not seen since it launched in January 1984.
“It won’t go on forever, but the winter rally has shown it has considerable legs,” said analyst Laith Khalaf from Hargreaves Lansdown.
The pound recovered later in the day and was trading around $1.22 last night; the US dollar lost 0.4 per cent against a basket of currencies after Trump gave a rambling conference in which he hit back aggressively at his critics but failed to provide details on previously mooted plans for fiscal stimulus and deregulation.
London-listed stocks such as GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca dipped after Trump said pharmaceutical companies were “getting away with murder”. AstraZeneca closed down 1.8 per cent, with GlaxoSmithKline down 0.8 per cent.
Read more: Supermarkets are leading the FTSE 100
Nonetheless the FTSE was up on the day and has climbed more than 550 points since early December, a rise of more than eight per cent. The index has bounced back from below the 6,000 mark in the aftermath of last summer’s shock Brexit vote, helped by sterling’s decline, but also by a series of strong economic indicators.
Despite an expanding trade deficit, which reached £4.2bn in November, economists at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research believe the UK economy continued to expand impressively in the final three months of 2016, with GDP growth of 0.5 per cent.