U.K. stocks ended at a record closing high on Thursday, with energy companies among the biggest gainers as oil prices continued their rally to trade around a three-year high. The FTSE 100 index added 0.3% to close at 7,695.88, taking out the previous all-time closing high of 7,687.77 hit on December 29. The pound bought $1.3545, compared with
$1.3516 late Wednesday in New York. Oil companies helped drive the upbeat trading mood in London as crude prices extended their rally from Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate oil CLG8, -0.29% climbed 0.7% to $62.06 a barrel, trading around its highest level since December 2014. The oil gains came as anti government protests continued in Iran. There are fears that the riots, which have left more than 20 people dead, may lead to disruption to crude output from OPEC’s third-largest producer, which would limit global oil supply and support prices. U.K. stocks remained higher after the country’s services purchasing managers’ index beat forecasts by rising to 54.2 in December from 53.8 in November.
That was a welcome change from the PMIs on the manufacturing and construction PMIs, out on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, that missed expectations and showed a slowdown in activity. In other U.K. data, the number of new mortgage approvals rose only marginally in November, another sign the housing market is slowing down. The report came alongside house price data from Nationwide Building Society hat showed house prices in the U.K. rose 2.6% on year in December, down from growth of 4.5% a year earlier.
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