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FTSE 100 closes higher after late rally

Market trader (file picture) Image copyright Getty Images

(Close): A late, if modest, rally saw the FTSE 100 end the half-day's trading before Christmas slightly higher.

The benchmark index closed up 13.66 points, or 0.22%, at 6254.64, which followed Wednesday's sharp rise. Trading resumes on Tuesday 29 December.

Packaging group Mondi led the way, rising 1.8%, closely followed by energy company BP and miner Anglo American, which were both up 1.5%.

On the downside, supermarket giant Tesco fell 1.3% and BT lost 1.2%.

Mining and commodity shares have benefitted from a rise in metals prices and pick-up in the price of oil over the last few days.

"The London market is benefiting from the latest rebound in crude oil prices," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell. "The oil price, so troublesome in the run in to Christmas, is now hovering just below the $38 per barrel mark, boosted by a crude oil inventories figure on Wednesday."

Anglo American's shares rise was also helped by news that it will sell its 83.3% interest in Dartbrook coal mine in New South Wales, Australia, to Australian Pacific Coal for A$50m (£24.4m).

The sale is part of a major restructuring that Anglo announced earlier this month.

Blue chip stocks rose after strong overnight trading in Asia and New York, but are moving on thin trading as investors wind down for the festive break.

'Snooze-fest'

Outside the top flight, stockbroker Panmure Gordon rose 2.3%. This follows a more than 17% tumble on Wednesday amid concerns about fee income from dealmaking.

Retailer Game Digital, which plunged 38% on Wednesday after a profits warning, lost another 0.39%.

CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler said: "Thankfully, after a volatile few weeks for stock markets driven mostly by central bank intervention and plummeting commodity prices, Christmas Eve has produced its traditional snooze-fest.

"An early finish for UK, French and Spanish markets and German and Italian markets already closed has meant little in the way of market movement."

In Paris, the Cac 40 index closed down 0.2% at 4,663.18. Frankfurt's stock exchange is closed.

Despite little economic news to drive the currency markets, sterling rose almost half a cent against the dollar to $1.4913, and was down one-tenth of a cent against the euro at €1.3618.