FTSE teeters close to 6,000 mark

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The FTSE 100 dropped 8.1 points to 5988.2

The FTSE 100 Index has remained close to the 6,000 mark as traders held their positions at the end of a decent year for London shares.

The last full business session of the year saw the Footsie drop 8.1 points to 5988.2, but the top flight is still on track to rise by almost 11% over 2010 after a December rally capped a strong second half year.

The top-tier closed above the 6,000 level for the first time since June 2008 on Christmas Eve as thin trading volumes and a Santa rally helped blue-chips move higher.

The rally has run out of steam since then, with Thursday’s modest decline reflecting a disappointing session for Asian markets overnight.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.1% as investors sold export-based stocks due to the strengthening of the yen against the dollar, a factor which cuts the value of profits and makes products less competitive abroad.

The next landmark for traders will be the opening of the US market and economic figures on jobless claims and pending home sales.

Heavyweights such as BP were among those lower in London on Thursday after a drop of 2.9p to 470.45p. Vodafone fell 1.35p to 167.5p and BT Group dropped 1.4p to 183.3p.

Banks did their best to prop up the top flight as Barclays rose 1.55p to 266.25p and part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group added 0.1p to 67.8p.

Silver miner Fresnillo was top of the FTSE 100 pile after lifting 18p to 1637p, a gain of more than 1%. It was followed by building and plumbing supplies firm Wolseley, which lifted 16p to 2060p.

But supermarket retailers experienced a disappointing session despite evidence that the sector held its own during a snow-impacted run-up to Christmas.

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