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FTSE 100 fails to match Dow cheer

New record highs set on America's Dow Jones Industrial Average failed to provide a boost to UK blue chips today amid lacklustre trading on the London market.

An initial rally after the Dow closed above 16,000 for the first time overnight proved short-lived, with the FTSE 100 Index losing initial gains to finish 7 points lower at 6674.3, despite a further early session advance on Wall Street.

Optimism about the US economic recovery and a steady stream of healthy corporate results have helped propel US indices to all-time highs, even with the threat that policymakers at the Federal Reserve will soon begin to scale back the country's emergency support.

Meanwhile, the pound largely held on to gains seen yesterday after impressive figures on UK manufacturing from the CBI.

Sterling stood at 1.62 US dollars and 1.20 euros.

Among stocks, Thomson holidays owner TUI Travel hit turbulence in the FTSE 100 Index after Norwegian shipping owner John Fredriksen sold his entire 5.4% stake in the company.

He has used the funds to increase his holding in German parent company TUI AG - owner of 56% of TUI Travel - to more than 20%.

The sale at 366p resulted in TUI's share price declining 8% or 30.3p to 359p.

Attention was also focused on Royal Mail after Ofcom said the recently-privatised company missed a requirement to deliver 93% of all first class letters on the day after collection, reaching 91.7%.

The watchdog's assessment came as a blow to the company ahead of its interim results on Wednesday. Shares were 6p lower at 539p, although this compares with 330p on its flotation last month.

On a brighter note, William Hill rose 1% after Barclays Capital upgraded its rating on the stock and noted that shares were trading at a 21% discount to the gaming sector despite market leading online margins.

While recent results in the industry have been punter rather than bookmaker friendly, shares rose 3p to 368.1p.

The FTSE 100 risers board was topped by leisure group Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn, Beefeater and coffee chain Costa, after its shares benefited from JPMorgan Cazenove's decision to upgrade the stock to overweight. Shares were 101p higher at 3483p.

In a quiet session for corporate news, shares in magazine and digital publisher Future rose 3% after it reported a big jump in full-year profits to £5.8 million.

Revenues declined 9% to £112 million, but cost cutting and the acceleration of its digital strategy helped boost its bottom line. Shares were up 0.5p at 16.5p.

Pub operator Fuller, Smith & Turner was 20.5p lower at 970p after it reported a small decline in half-year profits. Chief executive Simon Emeny said the company performed well in the period, with its managed pub estate growing profits by 16%.

The biggest FTSE 100 risers were Whitbread up 101p to 3483p, Arm Holdings ahead 27p to 991p, Persimmon 24p higher at 1221p, and Johnson Matthey 58p stronger at 3268p.

The biggest FTSE 100 fallers were TUI Travel down 30.3p to 359p, Vedanta Resources off 28p to 895p, Fresnillo 23p lower at 840.5p and Aberdeen Asset Management 11.6p weaker at 475.4p.


From Belfast Telegraph