Barclays PLC, HSBC Holdings plc and Standard Life Plc are all powering up.
It looks like the FTSE 100 (UKX) has not been harmed by today's Bank of England decision not to extend its quantitative easing programme, as the index stands another 14 points up on 6,112 as I write. But Western markets have generally been buoyed today by rises in Asia on the back of better-than-expected news from the Chinese economy.
When the FTSE 100 is reaching new heights, some of its constituents inevitably will be as well. Here are three financial giants setting new records:
The banking sector is certainly getting back to strength, as Barclays (LSE: BARC) shares hit a new high of 298p today, taking the price up over 50% in the past 12 months. Barclays came though the banking crisis relatively well, managing to maintain reasonable profits throughout, although at one point the shares fell as low as 50p!
Expectations for 2012 suggest a decent rise in earnings and put the shares on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of only around 8.5, with future forecasts dropping that further. So is there still value in the shares even after their strong rally? There may well be.
Banking rises continued at HSBC (LSE: HSBA) (NYSE: HBC.US), too, as shares of the second largest company in the FTSE 100 rose to a 52-week high of 674p, taking them up over 30% for the past year. HSBC profits did fall further than at Barclays, but the recovery started sooner as well, and the price did not hit quite the same bargain level.
As HSBC has largely recovered, there is less growth forecast for the next couple of years, but the bank is paying decent dividends, unlike most of its peers. There's a 4% yield expected for the 2012 full year, with forecasts rising to 5% by 2014.
To bring in a clean sweep for the financial sector today, we look at Standard Life (LSE: SL), whose shares have been hovering just short of their 354p peak all week. The shares have stormed up 70% over the past 12 months as the insurer published a number of upbeat trading updates during the year, followed by strong interim figures in October.
Forecasts put the shares on a P/E of around 15, so there's no obvious creaming bargain there by that measure, but dividends are strong, with an expected yield of over 4% and rising.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.