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3 FTSE 100 Shares Hitting New Highs: Aviva plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc and Centrica PLC

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is on a roll today, picking up 92 points to reach 6,651 by mid-afternoon, after the US Federal Reserve elected to continue with its economic stimulus policies unchanged. The boost takes the index of top UK shares to within 225 of the 13-year record of 6,876 points set in May, and has opened a very nice gap of 1,045 points from its 52-week low of 5,606.

But which individual companies are lifting up the FTSE 100? Here are three that are soaring to new heights:

Aviva

Shares in Aviva (LSE: AV) (NYSE: AV.US) have been doing really well, and have put on 4.7p so far today to 419.3p — but earlier today they hit a 52-week high of 421.6p, taking them up 25% over the year. The firm’s first-half results released on 8 August looked pretty good, with the turnaround plan going well, and we saw a 5.6p per share interim dividend.

The dividend will be down for two years in a row, but there’s still a reasonable yield of 3.9% currently being forecast for this year. More importantly, the rebased payment should be very well covered and reliable, and the shares are on a low forward P/E of 9.5.

Royal Bank of Scotland

The sale of a chunk of Lloyds Banking Group has given both our bailed-out banks a boost, with Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LSE: RBS) shares reaching a 52-week high today of 374.4p — the price is down a bit as I write, to 368,5p, but it’s still up 35% over 12 months.

Forward valuations for this year are pretty meaningless at the moment, with the forecast return to profit putting the shares on a P/E of 20. But if the recovery continues, 2014 predictions suggest a P/E of a more modest 12. It’ll be a while before there’s a meaningful dividend again though, with a yield of just 0.5% forecast for next year.

Centrica

Energy supplier Centrica (LSE: CNA) is our third top-flight company to break new ground today, climbing to a 52-week high of 400.3p before dropping back a little to 399.8p. That takes the price up nearly 20% over the past year, which is pretty good for a share that is widely seen as an income investment.

I’ve already explained why I think Centrica’s reliability is great for novice investors who really don’t need any shocks, and I think it’s hard to argue with fundamentals like these — rising earnings and a steady dividend yield of around 4.5%, from shares on a very average P/E of 14.

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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.