The FTSE 100 — Britain’s benchmark share index — just hit the highest level in history, smashing its previous record, set in April 2015.
Around 12:05 p.m. BST (7:05 a.m. ET) the index hit 7,128 points, surpassing its previous intraday high of 7,123. That’s an increase of just more than 0.4% so far on the day.
Here’s the chart:
Gains are being led by Whitbread, the retail company which owns Costa Coffee and several other major names, and high street stalwart Next. Next is higher by more than 4.2%, while Whitbread is up 3.7%.
The main catalyst of the gains is another weak day for the pound, which has fallen 0.45% on the day so far, after a report that a so-called “hard Brexit” could cost the Treasury £66 billion per year. If you discount Thursday night’s “flash crash” — which was reportedly so bad because of low liquidity — there is still a clear downward trend for sterling, with no clear sign of the bottom.
To the uninitiated, a weaker pound might seem like bad news for UK stocks, however around 70% of the revenue of the companies that make up the FTSE 100 is derived from abroad, meaning that when sterling is weak, they make more money. That is because the index is stuffed full of mining companies, oil firms, and pharmaceutical giants who use the UK as a base, but tend to denominate their assets in dollars.
If the FTSE maintains its current level, it will hit an all-time closing high, surpassing the 7,103 close of April 27 2015, the same day as the previous intraday high.
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