FTSE up almost 30 points

The FTSE 100 Index marched further ahead today thanks to robust figures on Chinese economic growth and more good earnings news on Wall Street.

FTSE up almost 30 points

The FTSE 100 Index marched further ahead today thanks to robust figures on Chinese economic growth and more good earnings news on Wall Street.

America's Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its highest level of the year - past 11,100 - after a batch of better-than-expected earnings from construction firm Caterpillar and fast food chain McDonald's.

The FTSE 100 Index also remained near to its highest point since April after lifting 28.9 points to close at 5757.9, despite weaker-than-expected retail sales and a drop in oil prices.

The cost of crude slipped to around $82 a barrel as a stronger US currency made dollar-based commodities more expensive for investors with other currencies.

The poor retail sales data sent sterling to a six-and-a-half-month low against the euro - at €1.13 - on renewed fears of more quantitative easing from the Bank of England.

Among stocks, BP was down 2.9p at 432.5p while exploration firm Tullow Oil dropped 26p to 1227p after it said drilling at its Inyina-1 well in Ghana had found water instead of oil.

The biggest top-flight fall came from Thomson holidays firm TUI Travel after it announced the resignation of its chief financial offer and said it would restate its earnings for the last financial year.

The group admitted it will have to write off a total of £117m (€131.8m) due to its failure to reconcile the separate accounting systems used in the retail and tour operator businesses within TUI UK.

Shares slumped 11% or 25.4p to 205p as TUI also revealed a slowdown in UK bookings growth for this winter.

BT shares soared more than 4% after a High Court judge ruled the pension liabilities of employees who joined the company after privatisation would be covered by the Government if the group went bust.

The Government had argued that its liabilities should only extend to those employees who joined the pension scheme before BT was privatised in 1984. Shares were up 6.1p at 156.3p.

Consumer goods firms dominated the risers board after Guinness firm Diageo added 27p to 1187p, Unilever lifted 46p to 1846p and Reckitt Benckiser cheered 134p to 3550p.

In the FTSE 250 Index, bookmaker William Hill was up 7.2p to 168.9p after it said a run of more favourable sporting results in the third quarter meant operating profits should be at the top end of forecasts.

And drinks firm Britvic added 26.8p to 497.3p after Altium Securities upgraded the stock to buy from hold following a strong full-year trading update.

At Debenhams, investors were cheered by a return to like-for-like sales growth and a pledge by the company to reinstate dividends in 2011. With full-year pre-tax profits up 20%, shares lifted 5p to 76.5p, or 7%.

The biggest Footsie risers were BT Group up 6.1p to 156.3p, Reckitt Benckiser ahead 134p to 3550p, Invensys up 11.5p to 320.5p and Intercontinental Hotels up 43p to 1215p.

The biggest Footsie fallers were TUI Travel down 25.4p to 205p, Autonomy off 44p to 1461p, Randgold Resources down 130p to 6045p and Tullow Oil down 26p to 1227p.

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