Miners boost stocks in thin holiday trading

London (AFP) –


London shares pushed upwards in thin holiday season trading on Wednesday, boosted by a rise in commodity prices following a slight lift in Asian markets and a fractionally firmer opening on Wall Street.

London's FTSE 100 index returned from a four-day break to set a new intra-day trading record of 7,617.86 points. It later stood at 7,616.02, a gain of 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile in the eurozone, both Frankfurt's DAX 30 and the CAC 40 in Paris were more or less flat.

"European equity markets are mixed... with the FTSE 100 outperforming thanks to gains from its heavily weighted materials segment," said Accendo Markets analyst Henry Croft.

"Continued concern as to the impact of last week's Catalonian election victory for pro-independence parties, as well as a euro recovery... are both weighing on mainland European equities."

Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said that the period between Christmas and New Year "is often very quiet. With the US having got tax reform over the line last week and kicked the budget issue back to January at the last minute, investors have been left with little to turn their attention to."

"A thin volume trading is a general theme across the markets," said Naeem Aslam, analyst at Think Markets UK.

"Most traders are away on their holiday and we do not expect much action in the markets, however, the general portfolio rebalancing trade would be the most common feature between now and the end of this year."

London's top seven performers were all miners, with Fresnillo leading the pack with a two-percent rise as copper prices hit a three-year high.

Asian markets earlier edged upward as fears over lacklustre iPhone demand eased and commodities rose.

Shares in Apple -- the biggest US company by market capitalisation -- and its Asian suppliers had slumped Tuesday after a report in Taiwan's Economic Daily warned of weak demand for the iPhone X.

But that slide was arrested, with analysts suggesting media reports of supplier order cuts were "confusing the market".

Shares in Taiwan-based Apple suppliers Hon Hai Precision Tech -- better known as Foxconn -- and Catcher Technology rose Wednesday. Shares in Apple dipped 0.17 percent in early trading in New York.

Tokyo and Hong Kong both rose by 0.1 percent while Taipei added 0.6 percent.

Seoul gained 0.4 percent after the announcement of a new policy aimed at encouraging trades on the junior tech-heavy Kosdaq market bolstered overall investor sentiment.

But positive news was dampened by record losses at Hyundai Heavy -- the world's largest shipbuilder by sales -- which lost more than a quarter of its share value after announcing a plan to issue new stocks to shore up its ailing finances.

Shanghai fell 0.9 percent, dragged down by heavyweight financial and consumer liquor shares.

On the currency markets, the euro rose slightly against the dollar on Wednesday in a sluggish market, stabilising after losses last week triggered by regional elections in Catalonia, where pro-independence parties won a slim majority.

The pound fell against most currencies, weighed down by disappointing Boxing Day retail sales, which could soften overall growth figures.

Elsewhere, oil-linked shares were boosted by crude prices that remained close to two-year highs.

Oil prices in New York had jumped to a two-and-a-half year high Tuesday and briefly topped $60 a barrel due to a Libyan pipeline explosion and frigid weather in the US, before easing Wednesday.

- Key figures around 1440 GMT -

New York - DOW: FLAT at 24,742.80 points

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,616.02

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 13,052.57

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.05 percent at 5,367.33

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,547.96

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 22,911.21 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 29,597.66 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.9 percent at 3,275.78 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1897 from $1.1891

Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.3412

Dollar/yen: FLAT at 113.29

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 34 cents at $59.63 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 48 cents at $65.98