Footsie hits four-year high

The FTSE 100 crashed through the 5500 barrier today as hopes of a prolonged rally in the run-up to Christmas rose in the City.

The FTSE 100 crashed through the 5500 barrier today as hopes of a prolonged rally in the run-up to Christmas rose in the City.

British Airways was flying high as oil prices remained stable despite the onset of wintry weather in the northern hemisphere, while there were fresh gains for miners and stocks dealing in commercial property.

Mid-morning gains of 64.3 points drove the Footsie to 5524.3, putting it on course for its best finish since the summer of 2001.

Mining stocks were among those leading the charge with Xstrata rising 33p to 1390p, followed by BHP Billiton and Antofagasta which gained 16.5p and 38p to 875.5p and 1693p respectively.

Shares in British Airways took off – up 3% or 8.75p to 323.5p – as pressure on its fuel bill eased due to the stable oil prices.

Strong results from Land Securities earlier this week have led many investors to see commercial property as a safe haven when the UK economic outlook is uncertain.

Shares in Land Securities are nearly 20% higher than three weeks ago, while there have been big gains for blue-chip rivals Hammerson and British Land.

This rally continued today as Land Securities advanced 15p to 1599p and Hammerson added 12p to 995p to track British Land, which was 30p stronger at 1043.5p.

Only a clutch of stocks missed out on the spending spree by investors and they included Hilton Group, which was under pressure for the second straight session after warning yesterday that the gross win at its Ladbrokes chain of bookmakers had been hit by punters going on a winning steak.

Hilton faded 1.25p to 334.75p, but the biggest blow in the sector was felt by smaller rival ukbetting which dropped 5% or 2.75p to 53.75p after announcing that its annual earnings would be at the lower end of expectations.

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