Footsie's winning sequence ends

 

A sequence of five straight winning performances by London's benchmark index, the FTSE 100, culminating in Monday's 134-point upsurge, came to a halt yesterday as profit-takers moved in.

But the weakness in the leaders did not spread into the rest of the market where the second and third-line stocks maintained their progress into a fifth session.

At the close of a day that tended to confirm turnover is set to dribble away to nothing in the run-up to the Christmas holiday, the FTSE 100 index finished trading on a quiet note.

Dealers in London said there was a market-wide feeling that, at last, activity was set to run down before the Christmas holiday, which comes ahead of the launch of the euro, one of the factors that have apparently choked off much of the international business that would have been driving London stocks.

The FTSE 100 index ended the day a net 33.2 off at 5,843.3, a sharp reversal from its early performance which saw the index threatening the 5,900 level after the exhilarating performance of Wall Street overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had raced up 160 points before coming off sharply late in the session to finish 85 points up.

At its best the FTSE 100 came within seven points of penetrating the 5,900 level.

The FTSE 250, meanwhile, settled a net 20.4 higher at 4,763.3, not far short of the session high of 4,767.7, up 24.8. And the FTSE SmallCap, which has lagged both the FTSE 100 and 250 indices this year, delivered a good performance, ending the day a net 9.1 ahead at 2,031.6.

The underlying trend in the London stock market remained mostly positive, dealers said. Turnover in equities was 750.6 million shares at 6 p.m., well down on recent levels.