By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
Index rises 0.2% as trading closes early for Christmas Eve
U.K. stocks finished slightly higher Thursday, building on the previous day's big gain, in a subdued session that closed early for Christmas Eve.
The FTSE 100 rose 0.2% to end at 6,254.64, achieving a third up day in a row. It climbed 3.3% during the holiday shortened-week.
Mondi PLC (MND.JO) performed best on Thursday among FTSE components, advancing 1.9%.
The blue-chip benchmark's step higher followed Wednesday's 2.6% jump, which was the FTSE's largest gain since Oct. 5 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-charges-higher-led-by-oil-and-mining-stocks-2015-12-23), nearly three months ago. The FTSE has ended the week at its highest level in three weeks, aided by a recovery in energy prices.
On Thursday, Brent crude oil (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-continues-rebound-but-long-term-outlook-still-bleak-2015-12-24) was trading roughly flat, while West Texas Intermediate rose 0.3%, helping sentiment and energy-related stocks.
Trading in the U.K. stopped at 12:30 p.m. London time, or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time. London's exchange will be shut on Friday and Monday in honor of Christmas and Boxing Day. Trading is slated to resume Tuesday.
Read: When are European markets closed for Christmas and New Year's? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/when-are-european-markets-closed-for-christmas-and-new-years-2015-12-23)
"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," said Jasper Lawler, analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.
"The week between Christmas and New Year's will likely continue in the same vein as investors weigh up the consequence for markets in 2016 of the first rate hike in the US for nine years and an 11-year low in Brent crude oil," he added.
Packaging and paper manufacturer Mondi and insurer Old Mutual PLC (>> Old Mutual plc) , which gained 1.6%, benefited from fears receding over South Africa's finance minister, Lawler said. Both companies have operations in South Africa, which has been rocked this month (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-on-course-to-break-longest-losing-streak-in-three-months-2015-12-14) by turnover in that post.