FTSE up slightly

FTSE up slightly

Investors went shopping for festive bargains today as the last session before the UK Stock Exchange's Christmas break ended with the FTSE 100 Index marginally higher.

Burberry was in fashion near the top of the risers board, while mining stocks also interested the slim number of traders at their desks on Christmas Eve.

With the London Stock Exchange closing at lunchtime ahead of the two-day festive break, the FTSE 100 Index finished 14.2 points higher at 5954.2.

It is up by nearly 7% across the whole of 2012, but analysts have warned of increased volatility over the New Year period as American politicians attempt to avoid the country going over the fiscal cliff.

Those negotiations are now on hold until after Christmas, leaving little time for the country to avert automatic government spending cuts and tax increases on January 1.

It is an issue that has dominated markets for several weeks and is now likely to spill over into the new year.

Fears over the US fiscal cliff come amid signs that the eurozone crisis, which has occupied the headlines for much of 2012, is starting to become less of a worry for investors.

The debt issues have helped strengthen the pound against both the US dollar and euro since the summer, although there was little movement today with sterling at 1.62 against the greenback and 1.22 versus the single currency.

In the top flight, miners attracted buying interest, with Kazakhmys up 11.5p at 770p and Fresnillo up 23p at 1895p.

Broadcaster ITV was also on the risers board after beefing up its international content business with the weekend acquisition of a majority stake in an American reality television producer for 40 million US dollars (£24.7 million).

ITV has bought a 61.5% shareholding in Gurney Productions, which makes shows including hit US cable series Duck Dynasty featuring a family business making hunters' duck calls.

The deal also gives ITV the option to buy the remaining 38.5% stake in Gurney - founded in 1995 by Scott and Deirdre Gurney - in the future. Shares were 0.6p higher at 107.2p.

Among other risers, Burberry was up nearly 2% or 22p to 1239p and drinks giant Diageo was up 20p to 1827.5p

The FTSE 250 Index, which is more representative of the performance of UK industry, has surged by 22% in the year to date to stand at a record high. It was up today by another 33.4 points or 0.3% to 12395.8.

Logistics firm Stobart led the FTSE 250 risers board up 4.65p to 104p, while pub business Wetherspoon was also near the top of the league, adding 14p to close at 544p.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Vedanta Resources up 22p at 1174p, Burberry ahead 22p at 1239p, Weir up 32p at 1898p and Kazakhmys ahead 11.5p at 770p.

The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were CRH down 25p at 1231p, Carnival off 35p at 2407p, Evraz down 3.5p at 254.3p and British American Tobacco off 41p at 3101p.

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