The FTSE's Worst Day of the Year!

LONDON -- Oh, how the headlines change!

For weeks we've had pronouncements like "FTSE highest for 13 years." And then today, it's suddenly all "FTSE has its worse day in a year!"

Sure, that's factually correct, after the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) dropped 143 points yesterday for a 2.1% fall to 6,697 -- down from that 13-year highest close of 6,840. But after the year it's had, such gloomy headlines are a bit like complaining that your big lottery win is 2% smaller than you had thought it would be!

Over the past 12 months, the index of the U.K.'s biggest public companies has risen by a stunning 25%, even after having fallen further to 6,665 points by midday today. And that's without dividends; there's an average yield of 3% to add to it.

And what of the FTSE's best individual performers?

Look at the size of these!
If you had bought shares in Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY  ) a year ago, you'd have more than doubled your money by today. Despite the shares having dropped 5% over the past two days to a current price of 60 pence, they're still up more than 120% as the bailed-out bank eases itself back into profitability.

How about chip designer ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM  ) ? ARM's share price has plunged by a massive 10.7% over the past week to 980 pence as I write. But even after that fall, it has still doubled since this time last year. And the demand for mobile-computer processors escalates year after year, ARM shares have more than 10-bagged since the start of 2009.

Look at budget airline easyJet (LSE: EZJ  ) , which is snapping up landing slots at Gatwick while rivals are feeling the pinch. The share price has fallen 2.7% to 1,250 pence over the past two days. But over the full 12 months, it has provided the biggest gain of the companies we're looking at here, up more than 150%.

And even our humble utilities companies are having a great time of it -- just look at water supplier United Utilities (LSE: UU  ) . It's generally considered a cash cow with dividend yields of close to 5%, but shareholders have also enjoyed a 23% rise in the share price to 787 pence, with the price reaching a five-year high this week.

Worst day of the year? We've never had it so good!

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