LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) didn't quite manage to end the week on another new record, though it did hit a high of 6,355 on Wednesday. But it did finish pretty close to that, ending Friday on 6,347 points. Growing global economic optimism has led the U.K.'s top-tier stock market index to a new high every week so far since the new year started. Will it do the same again this week? I wouldn't bet against it.
Individual companies are setting new records every week, too, of course. Here are three that ended last week on a new 12-month high and could well carry on upward this week.
BT (LSE:BT-A) (NYSE:BT)
After releasing market-pleasing third-quarter results on Friday, BT saw its shares soar by 6.4% to close the week on a 52-week high of 265 pence. That's more than 20% up over the past 12 months, which is pretty good going for a 21 billion pound FTSE 100 giant. Pre-tax profit for the nine months to December grew by 8% to 1.9 billion pounds, which we were told was partly due to strong take-up of BT's new generation of fiber broadband.
The necessary cables have now been laid for about 13 million premises to access the service, and so far BT has approximately 1.25 million homes and businesses connected. Analysts expect that to contribute to a nice rise in earnings per share for the full year, with a dividend yield of about 2.6% expected.
BT isn't the only big telecom company reaching new heights: TalkTalk achieved the same feat to end the week. The shares have more than doubled over the past year, and they finished Friday on a new high of 245 pence.
TalkTalk has grown its earnings well over the past couple of years, and though there's a fall expected for the year to March, double-digit growth is forecast to resume next year. And there's a 2013 dividend of about 4% in the cards, predicted to rise to 5% and 6%, respectively, over the following two years.
Our third company reaching new record prices is not a telecom company; it is construction-outsourcing company Interserve, which saw its shares rise to a new high of 461 pence to end the week.
With optimism creeping back into the construction business, City analysts are expecting Interserve to deliver a 5% rise in earnings per share for 2013, with a dividend yield of 4.5%, rising to 14% and 4.6%, respectively, for the following year. And those dividends should be more than twice-covered.
Income from dividends is a core part of many a long-term portfolio. Whether you take the income to live on or reinvest it in more shares, there's nothing wrong with good old cash, whatever your strategy. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share that they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.