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UK Benchmark Stock Index Ends Down

December 29, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ The benchmark stock index for Britain’s 100 most valuable businesses finished the year on Friday lower than it started for only the third time in its history.

The Financial Times Stock Exchange index closed trading at 6,222.5 _ a drop of 10.2 percent since the beginning of 2000. Analysts blamed the recent poor performance of telecommunications and technology stocks for the slump.

The last time the index, which was launched in 1983, ended the year lower than it started was in 1994. The other occasion was in 1990.

London’s technology-focused index, the techMARK 100, ended the year at 2,564.00, a 32 percent fall since its 1999 close of 3,779.41.

This time last year, the FTSE-100 index was heading for a record high, fueled by euphoria over the prospect of Internet companies and pre-millennium fever.

It ended 1999 at 6930.2, up 1,051 points for the year.

But with many of the Internet companies struggling to stay afloat and growing concerns over the health of the U.S. economy, the market has suffered recently.

David Page, economist at stockbroker Investec, said he still remained cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the new year.

``People are perhaps looking for more realistic returns than they had previously,″ Page said.

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