FTSE ends year with little reason to cheer

The FTSE 100 Index dropped, led by Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Billiton as copper prices fell, cutting the benchmark's advance for the year to 3.8 per cent, its worst performance since 2002.

The FTSE 100 lost 20 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 6456.9 yesterday. The FTSE All-Share Index sank 0.2 per cent to 3286.67.

Ireland's ISEQ Index retreated 16.57, 0.2 per cent, to 6934.35, bringing its loss for the year to 26 per cent. The Irish index is the second-worst performer in 2007 of 90 benchmarks tracked by Bloomberg.

Rio Tinto, the world's third-biggest mining company, fell 1 per cent to 5317 pence yesterday. Rio was the second-best performer on the FTSE 100 index this year, having almost doubled in value.

Anglo American, the second-largest mining company, retreated 0.6 per cent to 3080 pence. BHP, the world's biggest, lost 1 per cent to 1546 pence.

Copper dropped for a second day in London on speculation that a slump in the US housing market will extend into next year and further dampen demand for industrial metals.

The following stocks also rose or fell in the UK markets.

Acambis rose 6.75 pence, or 6 per cent to 118.5 pence. The main supplier of smallpox vaccine for US stockpiles raised its revenue forecast for 2007.

Alphameric rose 3.5 pence, or 13 per cent, to 31, after the Sunday Times reported Ladbrokes is close to signing a contract to screen horse races broadcast by Turf TV, a joint venture of the UK software company.

Friends Provident added 4.4 pence, or 2.8 per cent, to 163.4. The UK insurer is conducting a review that may lead it to put itself entirely or partially up for sale, the Sunday Times reported, citing bankers it didn't identify.

- Bloomberg

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