3 FTSE Shares Hitting New Highs

LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) has today given up yesterday's gains, dropping 80 points to 6,276 by mid-morning, as stalemate in the Italian elections weighs heavily on the markets. What has probably shaken people the most is the size of the anti-austerity protest vote, which could wreck the country's reform measures.

The fall has hit most FTSE 100 shares, but a number of them did close on new highs yesterday:

National Grid (LSE: NG  ) (NYSE: NGG  )
National Grid shares closed on a new high of 717.5 pence yesterday, taking the price up 11% over the past 12 months, which isn't bad for the kind of company that's considered a dividend cash cow. In fact, for the past four years, dividend yields have exceeded 6%, and for the year to March 2013 the forecast payout barely drops below that to 5.7%.

The shares have dropped back a little today to 715 pence, putting them on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13, which is a little below the long-term FTSE average of around 14. But National Grid easily beats the FTSE average dividend return of about 3%.

Legal & General (LSE: LGEN  )
There are good times for investors in the insurance sector, with the likes of Legal & General Group climbing to a new closing high of 159.5 pence yesterday (and down a few pennies to 156 pence today). If you had managed to catch the low point of 106 pence in June 2012, you'd be up a nice 56% today.

Despite a tough few years for earnings, Legal & General has been paying decent dividends, reaching 6.2% for December 2011, with 4.7% in the cards for the year to December 2012.

Schroders (LSE: SDR  )
The whole financial sector is going through a good patch, and asset manager Schroders closed on a 52-week high of 2,044 pence yesterday -- up 29% over the past 12 months. The price has fallen back today, down 3.7% to 1,969 pence, but that's still a cracking performance for a FTSE 100 share.

Dividends are more modest at Schroders, with a 3% yield paid in 2011. And though we're expecting a lift for the 2012 dividend, the share price rise drops the yield to 2%.

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