FTSE 100 history

Find out all about the indices that track the UK stock market – including when they were launched, and which companies have been listed for the longest.

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What is the FTSE?

When people talk about the FTSE, they’re usually referring to Britain’s flagship stock index, the FTSE 100. But like Dow Jones and S&P, the FTSE is actually the name of the company that publishes the FTSE 100. It also publishes several other indices, such as:
  • FTSE 100: the 100 biggest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) by market cap
  • FTSE 250: the 101st-350th biggest companies on the LSE by market cap
  • FTSE 350: a combination of the 250 and the 100
  • FTSE SmallCap: the 351st-619th biggest companies on the LSE by market cap
  • FTSE All-Share: a combination of the FTSE 350 and the SmallCap
In 2015, the FTSE Group was merged with Russell Indexes to form FTSE Russell, which runs key US indices like the Russell 2000 as well as those under the FTSE brand.

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History of the FTSE 100

1984 - How did the FTSE get its name?

FTSE stands for Financial Times Stock Exchange, representing the two companies that launched the FTSE 100 – the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange.

The oldest UK stock index that is still in use today is actually the FTSE All-Share, which was launched as the FT Actuaries All-Share in 1962. The index was solely run by the Financial Times until January 1984, when the FTSE 100 was launched.

1984 - How did the FTSE get its name?

FTSE stands for Financial Times Stock Exchange, representing the two companies that launched the FTSE 100 – the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange.

The oldest UK stock index that is still in use today is actually the FTSE All-Share, which was launched as the FT Actuaries All-Share in 1962. The index was solely run by the Financial Times until January 1984, when the FTSE 100 was launched.

1992 - The FTSE Group is launched

The FTSE 100 quickly became a popular indicator of UK stock performance, which led to the addition of new indices in October 1992. The most notable of these was the FTSE 250.

A few years after the launch of the FTSE 250, the FT – by now a subsidiary of Pearson publishing – and the LSE formed the FTSE Group to oversee all of the indices under the FTSE banner. Today, the group is solely owned and run by the LSE after Pearson sold its stake in 2011.

1997-99 - Crossing the 5000-point barrier in the 90s

The next few years saw both indices grow rapidly, with the FTSE 100 breaking the 5000-point barrier in August 1997 and the 250 joining it in February 1998. On 20 December 1999, the FTSE 100 peaked at 6930.2 – a record that would stand for the next 15 years.

The highs for both indices were driven mostly by huge gains in telecommunications, media and technology companies. But on the first day of trading in 2000, the dotcom boom began to unravel, sending them back below 4000 by spring 2003.

That would prove to be the last time that the indices were trading within 1000 points of each other. By May 2007 the FTSE 250 was above 12,000. By October 2013 it was above 15,000. The FTSE 100, meanwhile, wouldn’t break 7000 until December 2016.

2016 - How did Brexit impact the FTSE?

The UK voted for Brexit on 23 June 2016, in a result that initially hurt UK stocks. At the time, many analysts predicted that the FTSE 250 would feel the effects of the vote the hardest, with a set of companies that relied on the European Union far more than the global-facing FTSE 100.

In the end, the plummeting fortunes of the pound meant that both indices rallied once the dust had settled from the result. In the year after the Brexit result, they both hit record highs.

Companies on the FTSE 100

Who was on the first FTSE 100?

Back in 1984, the FTSE 100 had a very different make up to the one it has today. Here’s a rundown of the original 100 constituents of the index:

Agriculture

  • Dalgety

Aerospace and defence

Automobiles and parts

Banks

Bevereages

  • Bass
  • Distillers Company
  • Scottish and Newcastle Breweries

Chemicals

Conglomerate

  • British & Commonwealth
  • British Elect, Traction Co.
  • BTR
  • General Electric
  • Sears holdings
  • Trafalgar House

Construction and materials

  • BICC
  • Blue Circle industries
  • BPB Industries
  • Hanson Trust
  • Redland
  • RMC Group
  • Tarmac

Electrical rentals, music distribution and defence

  • Thorn EMI

Electricity

  • Ferranti

Fabrics and chemicals

  • Courtaulds

Fixed line telecommunications

  • Cable & Wireless
  • Racal Electronics
  • Standard Telephone and Cables

Food and beverages

  • Allied Lyons

Food and drug retailers

  • Boots

Food producers

  • AB Foods
  • Berisford (S&W)
  • Cadbury Schweppes
  • Northern Foods
  • Rowntree Mackintosh
  • United Biscuits

Forestry and paper

  • Bowater Corporation

Gas, water and utilities

  • BOC Group
  • Imperial Continental Gas Association

General retailers

Glass manufacturer

  • Pilkington Bros

Household goods and home construction

Investment trust

  • Edinburgh Investment Trust
  • Globe Investment Trust

Mining

  • Consolidated Gold Fields
  • English China Clays
  • Rio Tinto

Money broker

  • Exco

Nonlife insurance

  • Commercial Union Assurance
  • Eagle Star
  • General Accident Fire & Life
  • Guardian Royal Exchange
  • Hambro Life Assurance
  • Legal & General
  • Prudential Corporation
  • Royal Insurance
  • Sedgwick group
  • Sun Alliance & London Insurance
  • Sun Life Assurance Society

Oil and gas producers

Personal goods

Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology

Recruitment

  • Reed International

Real estate investment trusts

Transport

  • P&O Steam Navigation Company

Travel and leisure

  • Grand Metropolitan
  • Ladbroke Group
  • Rank Organisation
  • Trusthouse Forte
  • Whitbread

Which companies have been on the FTSE 100 the longest?

Overall, there are 29 companies from 1984 that were also featured on the FTSE 100 in September 2017 – these are listed above in bold. However, ten of those 29 companies left the FTSE 100 at some point, and then returned. The 19 companies that were ever-present on the index for all of its first 33 years are

  • British American Tobacco (BAT Industries)
  • Barclays
  • BP (British Petroleum)
  • GlaxoSmithKline (Glaxo Holdings)
  • Land Securities
  • Legal & General
  • Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds bank)
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Pearson (Pearson (s) & Son)
  • Prudential (Prudential Corporation)
  • Reckitt Benckiser (Reckitt & Colman)
  • RELX Group (Reed International)
  • Rio Tinto
  • RBS Group (Royal Bank of Scotland)
  • Sainsbury’s (J Sainsbury)
  • Royal Dutch Shell (Shell Transport & Trading Company)
  • Smith & Nephew
  • Tesco
  • Unilever

Notable FTSE 100 deletions

Today, there are several major brands that no longer feature on the FTSE 100 because they no longer exist as listed companies. Boots, for example, was bought out by a private equity firm in 2007, and Cadbury Schweppes demerged in the same year.

There has also been a big shift in the sectors that blue-chip British business operate in. Conglomerates, a key part of the FTSE 100 in 1984, no longer feature. Nowadays, UK businesses tend to specialise more – meaning the days of companies like Thorn EMI, a music distributor that also specialised in consumer electronics and defence, are over.

And, of course, there are the companies that have slipped down into the FTSE 250 and beyond. High street bookmakers like Ladbrokes, who were a mainstay on the FTSE 100 until they dropped out in 2006, haven’t returned since.

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