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LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE ) saw off 2012 in good style, ending the year at 5,898 points, having touched 5,997 on Dec. 27. Since the New Year, the index of top U.K. stocks has soared to 6,090 points, as markets worldwide responded strongly to the U.S. fiscal cliff deal.
But which stocks made the moves over the year? We look at a few of the biggest risers and fallers in the FTSE indices.
Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY )
A year ago, Lloyds Banking Group was pretty much untouchable by investors, having been bailed out by the U.K. government and slumping to a 3.5 billion pound loss in 2011. But after 2012 first-half results showed only a small loss, and forecasts moved to a 1.5 billion pound profit for the full year, the stock has soared. From a low of 25 pence in June, the price climbed to end the year on 48 pence, for a rise of 92%.
Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL )
Financial stocks dominated the big movers over the year, with broker and asset manager Hargreaves Lansdown gaining 58% to end the year at 681 pence. And that was after a small fall -- the price reached 780 pence in November, for an 81% rise on the start of the year. Since the start of the New Year, the price has been moving upward again and currently stands at 721 pence. Based on forecasts for the year to June 2013, the stock stands on a price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of 24, which is well above the FTSE's long term average of around 14, so there's a fair bit of earnings growth built into the price.
Eurasian Natural Resources (LSE: ENRC )
If finance has been the winning sector of the year, commodities and mining stocks have been among the biggest losers. Eurasian Natural Resources has been one of the sufferers, with a 55% price drop over the year to end December on 284 pence. The company, based in Kazakhstan, reported a 60% fall in profits at the halfway stage, and analysts are currently estimating a 66% fall for the full year. The stock is on a modest P/E of 9.5, which might look tempting, but some have raised concerns over corporate governance in Kazakhstan.
Evraz (LSE: EVR )
Miner and steel maker Evraz, which operates mainly in Russia, has also suffered badly from faltering international demand. The stock price fell to a low of 211 pence in July, from a February high of 460 pence. But it did bounce back a little, ending the year at 259 pence, for an overall fall of 31% over the year. Profit for the year to December 2012 is expected to pretty much vanish, but analysts are forecasting a return to growth this year -- but even 2013 figures put the stock on a P/E of 24.
As usual, this week's FTSE trading provided some large share-price movements -- and perhaps some buying opportunities. Indeed, legendary investor Warren Buffett has spent more than $1 billion buying the shares of one of the U.K.'s most successful FTSE large caps.
Clearly, he thinks there are bargains to be had within Britain's stock market, and you can discover the details of his investment -- including the price he paid -- by reading this special report. The report – "The One U.K. Share Warren Buffett Loves" -- is free and can be accessed immediately.
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