· FTSE 100 index of leading shares ends the day on 7,106.08 - 37.91 points or 0.5 per cent higher
· Two points higher than the previous record closing figure of 7,104 set on April 27 this year
· The term Santa rally emerges from the fact that the Footsie has risen in 26 of the past 32 Decembers
The London stock market closed at a record high today as rising oil and other commodity prices helped the Footsie to a now-traditional Santa rally.
With blue-chip oil and mining giants leading the way, the FTSE 100 index of leading shares ended the day on 7,106.08 - 37.91 points or 0.5 per cent higher than its open and 2 points higher than the previous record closing figure of 7,104 set on April 27 this year.
Today’s gains means the blue-cip index is now 12 per cent higher than on the day of the EU referendum in June. Much of the gains have been down to falls in the value of the pound against the US dollar - as that automatically improves many big company balance sheets which are reported in dollars.
The term Santa rally emerges from the fact that the Footsie has risen in 26 of the past 32 Decembers – and by performance over the last quarter of a century, December is the second-best month.
It comes behind only April, which always gets a boost from the new tax year. But December has not been a particularly fruitful month in the past two years, when the Santa rally failed to materialise.
Experts say that rather than the entire month, the period to look at is the five trading days to January 2.
Over this time, the FTSE 250 index of second-tier listed companies has finished higher 96 per cent of the time, falling just once in 23 years.
David Cheetham, market analyst at online trading group XTB, said: 'Observers of the markets have for many years noticed a strong propensity for stocks to rise in the period between Christmas and the New Year and this phenomenon appears to be playing out once more.'
Emerging from three days' stock market shutdown over the Christmas break, commodity-related shares were boosted by the crude oil price as benchmark Brent lifted 0.5 per cent higher to $56.36 a barrel, as well as a higher copper price.
Fresnillo, Randgold Resources, BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Rio Tinto each showed gains of 3-5 per cent - and as miners make up a large proportion of the Footsie's total value, that dragged the index higher despite losses elsewhere.
Airlines missed out on the festive rally, taking a hit from more expensive oil: British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines was seeing contrasting fortunes, down 2 per cent or 10.4p to 446.9p, followed close behind by low-cost rival easyJet, off 16p at 1019p.
Bovis dropped 5 per cent or 40.5p to 815.5p in the second tier after the group warned over profits as it said build delays in the run-up to Christmas would hit sales.
The builder said it would miss its 2016 sales target due to 'slower-than-expected build production' in December, with completions on around 180 homes set to be delayed into early 2017.
But retailers Sports Direct and online fashion group Boohoo were enjoying gains after unveiling deals.
Sports Direct was 2 per cent higher in the FTSE 250 - up 6.8p at 279.2p - after announcing the £112million ($137.5million) sale of its Dunlop brand to Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, boohoo.com lifted 3.8p to 136p after revealing plans to snap up the brand of collapsed US fashion firm Nasty Gal in a 20million US dollar (£16million) deal.