The FTSE 100 index did have a bad day of trading, as predicted this morning, but it was eventually as a result of reduced confidence in life insurers rather than in the worst seasonal December sales for 10 years.
The FTSE 100 index closed down 22 points or 0.5% to 4818.7 after Morgan Stanley analysts recommended shareholders reduce their holdings in Aviva – parent group behind Norwich Union – and Legal & General Group because both firms have recently enjoyed strong share price gains.
As a result of such advice, Aviva lost 1.9% to 630.5p by close of business while L&G dropped 3% in value to 114p.
Morrison, the 4th largest supermarket in the UK, also suffered a major fall in its share price by London’s close after the company announced it had struggled to match competitor price cuts over the holiday and made little real gain – just 0.1% - as a result. Morrison fell 5.6% to 203.5p.
Mining stocks did, however, enjoy decent gains today as commodity prices are expected to keep rising and therefore boost growth potential for 2005.
Copper futures prices, for example, rose 2% in London today, and now stand 31% higher than a year ago while aluminium futures prices added 1.2% and contracts are now worth 15% more than they were last year.
BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, closed up 2% to 603 pence while Rio Tinto, the third-biggest company, added 1.3% to £15.08.
Cairn Energy had another good day and leapt 40p or 3.8% to £10.88 pence as the oil exploration and production company announced it has discovered a gas field in northwestern India.
And Standard Chartered Plc pulled back some of yesterday’s 2.6% losses to close up 9p or 1% to 937.5p. The firm yesterday announced it had bought Korea First Bank for $3.3bn, and the firm is selling £1bn worth of new shares to fund the purchase.
The same positive gains cannot necessarily be said of gold prices, however, which dropped slightly today but eventually pulled back to $422.05 an ounce.
In the US, markets have not fared too well as the dollar has fallen to its lowest level against the euro in two weeks. The US dollar spot price currently stands at 76.09 cents to Euro1.
The Dow Jones is currently down 63.4 points or 0.6% to 10.557.6 while the Nasdaq Composite index is 17.6 points or 0.84% lower at 2,079 and the S&P 500 index is 7.4 points or 0.62% down at 1,182.8.IFAonline
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