Today, oil companies make up 16.2% of the FTSE (compared with 12.8% in 1999), so commodity price movements in metals and oil tend to have an even more significant effect on the index now than in 1999. In total, 23.9% of the index is now influenced by movements in the global commodity markets.
One of the major drivers of markets since the turn of the century has been the rise and fall of the banking sector. This is reflected in the FTSE 100.
Consolidation in the lead-up to the banking crisis saw many names disappear from the stock market. These include Woolwich, which was bought by Barclays in 2000, plus Abbey National and Alliance & Leicester, which were both bought by Spanish bank Santander.
Halifax and Bank of Scotland merged in 2001 to form HBOS, which was eventually sold to Lloyds at the height of the financial crisis. National Westminster Bank has also disappeared, bought by RBS in 2000.
However in percentage terms, there is little change in its importance to the index: in 1999 there were ten banks in the index, making up 16.62% of the weighting. Today there are just five banks, adding up to 13.9%.
The majority of the companies that no longer exist in the FTSE 100 – 22 in total – eneded up in foreign hands.
For example, drinks group Allied Domecq was bought by France’s Pernod in 2005, airport operator BAA was purchased by a consortium led by Spain’s Ferrovial in 2006 and Thames Water was snapped up by Australia’s Macquarie in 2005. Corus, formerly British Steel, was bought by Indian group Tata in 2006.
Surprisingly, just one company that was present in the index in 2009 was bought by an American group – Cadbury Schweppes was bought by Kraft in a controversial deal in 2010. But perhaps the biggest tragedy was seen in the downfall of music group EMI, which was bought by Guy Hands’ private-equity group Terra Firms in 2007 before it collapsed and was broken up.
Also, if inflation needs to be taken into account the index needs to be significantly higher than 10,000 to break even in real terms.
So, the fact the FTSE 100 could hit a new all-time high in the next few weeks is not necessarily of major significance, as we are looking at apples and oranges instead of comparing like with like. However, it is an important milestone, worthy of note.
The future of UK pension funds is now significantly dependent on the fate of the banking sector and growth in Asia through its impact on commodity markets. Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen.