Energy, industrial miners lift UK stocks, set for yearly gains


UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 edged higher on the last day of trading in 2023, supported by a rise in industrial metal miners and energy stocks on higher copper and crude prices, while a drop in precious metal miners capped gains.

At 09:12 GMT, the blue-chip FTSE 100 (.FTSE) edged 0.2% higher, on track to extend gains to a fifth week. The FTSE 250 mid-cap index (.FTMC) was down 0.2%, although set for a fourth straight week of gains.

Both indexes marked their longest-running weekly streak since early April.

Industrial metal miners (.FTNMX551020) rose 0.5%, leading sectoral gains on higher copper prices as the prospect of U.S. interest rate cuts brightened the outlook for most metals.

Heavyweight oil and gas (.FTNMX601010) added 0.4% on higher oil prices.

Top decliner precious metal miners (.FTNMX551030) dropped 0.7%, and was on track for a yearly decline of nearly 11%.

Meanwhile, data showed British house prices dropped more than expected in the year but a fall in mortgage rates in recent weeks has led to signs that the market might have bottomed out. The real estate (.FTUB3510) sector slipped 0.4%.

Although battling one of the stickiest inflation trends through the year and almost slipping into a recession by the end of it, British equities were resilient, logging in yearly gains. The FTSE 100 added over 3.5%, its third consecutive yearly gain while mid-cap stocks snapped the previous year’s declines to climb over 4% through 2023.

“So far, it looks as though the FTSE 100 will have moved largely sideways for the year, thanks in large part to extreme uncertainty and the upwards march of interest rates,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

During the year, the aerospace and defence (.FTNMX502010) sector led gains, soaring over 67%.

In company news, iron ore pellet producer Ferrexpo (FXPO.L) shares rose 5.1% after the company posted an end-of-year report.

The UK markets will be closed on January 1, on account of New Year’s holiday.