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Festive boost for Footsie despite US fears

Investors went shopping for festive bargains as the last session before the 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 on Monday ahead of the two-day festive break, the Footsie 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 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 on Monday, 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 23p firmer 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 (£24.7m).

ITV has bought a 61.5% shareholding in Gurney Productions. The deal also gives ITV the option to buy the remaining 38.5% stake in Gurney. The shares firmed 0.6p to 107.2p.

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

The FTSE-250 index has surged 22% in the year to date to stand at a record high. It was up on Monday 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 Footsie risers were Vedanta Resources, up 22p at 1174p, Burberry, ahead 22p at 1239p, Glasgow-based engineering company Weir, up 32p at 1898p, and Kazakhmys ahead 11.5p at 770p.

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