It has been an astonishing month or so for the FTSE 100, which posted a record 14th straight daily gains and hit 12 new all-time highs. The benchmark indexalso flew above the 7,300 mark in for the first time ever, before suffering a bout of Trump-related vertigo in the last couple of days.
As ever, some stocks and sectors have done a lot better than others, as shown by new research fromonline platform AJ Bell. Mexican silver miner Fresnillo is thebiggest winner over the last month, leapinga bright and shining 28% from late December tomid-January. Biggest loser is retailer Next, downa dismal 18%. So whats driving such disparate share performance?
The mining sector led the FTSE 100s charge. Randgold Resources was second best performer after Fresnillo, followed by Anglo American and Glencore, all of which rosearound 17%. BHP Billiton also featured in the top 10, up 12%. Theyve been obvious beneficiaries of the slide in sterling as Britainheadsfora hard Brexit.
This will ramp up the value of the minersplentiful overseas earnings when converted into sterling. However, I reckon the pound mayhave found its floor, with a hard Brexit priced-in. Currency market attentionmay now turn to the dollar under President Trump, and the euro as populists seek electoral wins in the Netherlands, France and Germany.So the mining sector may cool, especially with Chinese GDP growing at itsslowest rate for 25 years.
The housebuilders arethesurprise package with Persimmon and Taylor Wimpeyup14% and 12% respectively. The sector was one of the biggestlosers inthe post-referendum panic, which was a great buying opportunity, given the continuing housing shortage, low interest rates, and healthycompany profitability. Continuing lowstock valuations could drivefurther growth. Whitbreadwas another winner, up 13%, asAJ Bell investment director Russ Mould says its another beneficiary of the weakpound, which is attracting more tourists to its UK hotels.
Retailers are the months big losers, although nonefared as disastrously as Next. Marks & Spencer Groupand Primark ownerAssociated British Foods are both down more than 4%, despiteposting decent results in January. Nexts woeshave knocked sentiment, as investors questionhow long the current debt-fuelled UK consumer splurge can last.
There may have been a knock-on effect withBritishLand Company and Land Securities Group, which fell around 3%, hit by fears over the retail and commercial property sector outlook.Rolls-Royce Groupis another straggler, with AJ Bell pointing out that its driving through a major restructuring programme just as rival aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus fretabout their order books. Standard Life has been woundedby fears over dismal performance atits 25bn Global Absolute Return Strategies fund. Investors are now waking up to its severe underperformance, and fund outflows are gathering pace.
Finally, Pearson continues to struggle, and itsdecline has accelerated sharply sincethese figures were produced, amidprofit warnings and fears of worse to come. Its down nearly 28% in the last week alone and there could be worse to come.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.