FTSE steadies ahead of holidays

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The Footsie added 6.4 points to 5989.8

London’s FTSE 100 Index has steadied after recent advances towards the 6000 mark amid a year-end Santa Rally.

The Footsie added 6.4 points to 5989.8, with trading volumes thin ahead of the Christmas holidays and little in the way of corporate or UK economic news to push stocks higher.

Investors are expected to focus on US economic indicators, with eyes on job figures and new home sales data.

Oil giant BP was among the blue chip stocks making gains in London, climbing 3.3p to 473.3p after oil prices approached a two-year high, boosted by an unexpected surge in global demand.

Retailers were also prominent on the risers board, with hopes high for today to mark the busiest shopping day in the UK as consumers scramble to make last-minute Christmas purchases.

Marks & Spencer rose 1.8p to 374.8p, while B&Q parent Kingfisher added 1.3p to 259.8p and supermarket Sainsbury’s lifted 2p to 379p.

In the second tier, National Express rose 3p to 248p after announcing it had won an extension to run its C2C London to Tilbury and Southend rail franchise for up to another two years.

The decision from the Department for Transport is welcome news after National Express had to return the loss-making East Coast franchise into state hands in November 2009.

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