LONDON -- After a strong showing last week, the FTSE 100 has gone on to even greater things, climbing another 98 points (1.5 %) to end this week at 6,723, setting yet another new five-and-a-half-year record of 6,727 points along the way on Friday. Despite being briefly shaken by fears that the Federal Reserve might start softening its stimulus policies by summer, the FTSE 100 has now recorded six straight days above the 6,600 level.
Here are three of the week's biggest risers, and one faller.
Water supplier Severn Trent led the index after its price soared 345 pence (19%) to 1,270 pence on Tuesday morning, on the news of a takeover approach from a consortium comprising Borealis Infrastructure Management, the Kuwait Investment Office, and Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited. The bid was rebuffed the next day, with the Severn Trent board telling us it "completely failed to recognize the existing and potential value" of the group, but the price has remained high, possibly on hopes for a renewed bid. Severn Trent ended Friday at 2,050 pence, up 223 pence (12%) on the week.
Marks & Spencer
Department-store chain Marks & Spencer saw its stock rise for the week ahead of its full-year results, with the price picking up 31 pence (7.3%) to end the week at 451 pence. The company's most recent quarterly update, released on April 11, revealed its "strongest quarterly sales growth in the last two years," with overall sales up 3.1% year on year and multichannel sales up 23%. The full results are due on Tuesday, May 21.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group
The U.K.'s High Street banks have been on an upward run of late, with Royal Bank of Scotland heading the sector this week, gaining 37 pence (12.5%) to reach 337 pence. Prospects for the two banks bailed out with taxpayers' money during the depths of the credit crisis are brightening, with a forecast return to profit for RBS pushing the price up more than 60% over the past year. But Lloyds Banking Group has done even better, with a 140% gain over the same period.
This week's fallers have been dominated by the mining sector, as doubts concerning the strength of the Chinese economy continue to put pressure on metal and mineral prices. Rio Tinto, one of the FTSE's diversified mining giants, saw its price slip by 137 pence (4.5%) to 2,900 pence. Rio Tinto's price had been doing well from early December, but since a high of 3,872 pence in February, it has slumped by 25%.
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