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Footsie held back by EU failure on Greece

The European Union's failure to agree a bailout deal for Greece hindered progress on London's leading shares index yesterday.

The FTSE-100 index finished just 3.93 points higher at 5752.03 after eurozone finance ministers were unable to reach a deal to give Greece the next tranche of its emergency aid and will now meet again next week.

Sentiment was not helped by worse-than-expected UK public finance figures, which revealed £8.6 billion of borrowing in October – up £2.7bn on a year earlier.

The pound was higher against the euro at 1.24 as uncertainty weakened the single currency. Sterling was also up against the US dollar at 1.59.

Platinum refiner Johnson Matthey was the biggest faller on the Footsie after it reported a 6% drop in half-year profits following a fall in metal prices and warned its second-half performance was unlikely to improve. The shares fell 135p to 2190p – a decline of 6%.

Compass – the world's biggest catering company – narrowed early session share falls seen after disappointment at its full-year results, despite news of a 7% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £1.09bn. The shares ended 9.5p lower at 699.5p.

Mining giant Xstrata made further gains after shareholders finally approved its multibillion- pound merger with Glencore International after months of setbacks. The shares firmed 10.4p to 997p.

Halfords fell 2.8p to 342.2p as the retailer posted a 22% fall in pre-tax profits to £42 million for the first half, despite a huge boost from the "summer of cycling".

The Tour de France and London Olympics effect failed to offset a weak first quarter when same-store sales fell by 7.5%, prompting a profits warning and the replacement of Philip Wild with Matt Davies as chief executive.

Retail revenues were down 2% at £393m, but the autocentre business, which Halfords is expanding in Scotland, saw sales rise 17% to £63m.

Newspaper stocks were in the spotlight after the creation of a new regional newspaper com-pany – called Local World – which will buy Daily Mail and General Trust's Northcliffe Media business.

DMGT, which will receive £52.5 million for the division and a 38.7% shareholding in the new group, edged 1p higher to 474p.

Trinity Mirror, which will also take a 20% shareholding in Local World, rose 1% to 80.3p.

JD Sports Fashion was also moving higher, up 1%, or 6.5p, to 716.5p in the FTSE-250, after reporting a pick up in third- quarter like-for-like sales to 1.5% from 1.1% in the first half.

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