The London market extended its winning streak to an eleventh day today after a late climb into the black.
The Footsie’s finish in positive territory matches a similar run seen at the end of 2003 and beginning of 2004 to mark the best sequence of gains since the index began in 1984.
The FTSE 100 Index closed up 9.52 points at 4586.1 as the market limped over the finish line after spending much of the last hour of trade in the red.
Nervous investors booked profits amid thin trading volumes and a lack of momentum on the market today.
Wall Street struggled for direction after mixed corporate earnings reports and signals on the property market.
US markets have also had a winning streak in recent days with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing above the 9,000 mark for the first time since January amid rising optimism on the economy.
Oil prices rose above $68 a barrel today as its rally extended into a third week.
In London, Financial Times and Penguin publishing firm Pearson leant its weight to the rise, with a 12% climb that outstripped other gainers by some way. Shares soared 73p to 679p after the group said it was trading ahead of expectations so far this year.
Lloyds Banking Group followed in its wake after a positive broker comment. The state-backed bank added 5.34p to 83.33p after Nomura upgraded it to buy.
Royal Bank of Scotland was also on the leader board with a 4% rise – up 1.76p to 43.76p – as Chancellor Alistair Darling met chairmen and chief executives from the major UK banks to encourage them to improve lending to businesses.
Miner Lonmin added almost 5% or 58p to 1301p after an upgrade from Goldman Sachs amid gains for commodity stocks on higher metals prices.
BP was also a gainer ahead of tomorrow’s interim results despite a sharp fall in profits expected on oil prices well below last year. With crude firming today, the heavyweight gained 5.1p to 519p.
Life insurer Friends Provident meanwhile gained 1.42p to 72.2p after shunning another approach from investment firm Resolution and ending talks.
Drinks can maker Rexam was the Footsie’s leading faller after confirming it was considering a possible fundraising to ease debts. Shares fell 39.25p to 284.5p, or 12%.
In the FTSE 250, transport group National Express lost some of its gains after the firm confirmed that the bid approach from its largest shareholder was subject on it keeping its remaining rail franchises. National shares closed up just over 1% or 4.25p to 350p.
The firm had earlier gained 5% after rival Stagecoach said it was in talks with another bid team over a possible break-up of the group.
The biggest Footsie risers were Pearson up 73p at 679p, Lloyds Banking Group up 5.34p at 83.33p, Old Mutual up 4.66p at 98.16p and Lonmin up 58p at 1301p.
The biggest Footsie fallers were Rexam down 39.25p at 284.5p, Land Securities down 19.5p at 489p, 3i Group off 10p at 252.75p and Barclays down 11p at 304p.