3 FTSE Shares Hitting New 52-Week Highs

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) has started 2013 in fine form, having hit three consecutive 52-week highs last week. Indeed, the peak of 6,090 achieved on Friday was the FTSE's highest level since February 2011 -- and was first achieved way back during April 1998!

The buoyant market has, of course, meant that many individual shares have been scoring fresh highs as well. Here are three large caps that have performed well of late and are currently riding high.

Direct Line Insurance (LSE: DLG  )
Spun off from Royal Bank of Scotland last year at 175 pence, Direct Line Insurance has subsequently watched its shares rally to as high as 218 pence.

The insurer has not issued any news since a third-quarter update during November, suggesting that the strong share price may be due to investors sensing a bargain. The Q3 numbers indicated annualized earnings of 22 pence per share, while a planned 50% to 60% payout ratio perhaps suggests a dividend next year of 12 pence per share. Those projections equate to a P/E of 10 and yield of 5.5% for anyone purchasing at the top.

National Grid (LSE: NG  )
Shares of National Grid have been flirting with their 718 pence high of late.

Once again the attraction here could be valuation and a decent dividend income in particular. National Grid lifted its first-half payout by 4% during November, and the trailing dividend of 39.8 pence per share supports a 5.5% yield for recent buyers. Prospective shareholders, however, may wish to consider the group's plan to announce a new dividend policy before May. You see, the firm's "updated investment plans" have been prompted by "key regulatory developments."

Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN  )
Bank stocks are having a good session today, led in part by revised rules to the sector's capital requirements. In fact, even the shares of Standard Chartered are now nearing a 52-week high. If you remember, this share collapsed last year following revelations the the bank illegally processed transactions for organizations within Iran.

At 1,635 pence, today's price needs only to advance about 30 pence to surpass the record set before the collapse. Last year, Standard's shares plunged as low as 1,228 pence as investors worried that what had been one of the industry's more dependable performers had lost its way.

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