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FTSE drifts ahead of talks on euro future

London's blue chip index failed to find direction as investors sat tight ahead of news from the eurozone and economic data this week.

The FTSE 100 Index closed up 13.1 points at 6277.1 as eurozone group finance ministers sat down to discuss the value of the single currency.

The meeting comes after French finance minister Pierre Moscovici has raised concerns that the rising euro is making goods less competitive.

Markets were also subdued with Asian markets shut due to the Chinese new year.

In the currency markets the pound was down against the euro at 1.17 and the US dollar at 1.57 ahead of the Bank of England's latest assessment of growth and inflation in its quarterly report on Wednesday, the day after the release of monthly cost of living figures.

In the top flight index Barclays shares were higher amid speculation that a business review by chief executive Antony Jenkins will leave the banking giant intact. Reports over the weekend suggested Mr Jenkins will stop short of far-reaching change, although his drive for cultural reform will cost 2000 jobs in investment banking and the closure of its tax avoidance unit. Barclays shares outperformed the wider banking sector with a rise of 2.9p to 301.5p.

There was little in the way of corporate updates so holidays company Thomas Cook was in the spotlight after Citigroup removed its sell rating on the stock due to its better-than-expected quarterly results.

The broker noted progress on cost savings and the benefit of currency fluctuations, but added concerns over the company's balance sheet still remained. Shares rose 0.5p to 88.5p and have jumped 86% so far this year on hopes of a turnaround under new chief Harriet Green.

Sentiment has also improved towards grocery delivery chain Ocado after last week's better-than-expected annual results and the appointment of Sir Stuart Rose as chairman.

An upbeat note from Exane BNP Paribas reinforced this view with shares on the FTSE 250 Index risers board up 8.9p to 127.3p.

Back in the top flight a broker upgrade helped underpin Tesco share price. Shares in Britain's biggest supermarket were up 5.3p to 367.9p after Paribas raised its rating to neutral, and Morrisons was also up 6p to 256.1p.

Centrica, which should benefit from higher energy consumption during the current cold snap, rose 1.9p to 342p and rival SSE lifted 4p to 1405p. Chip designer ARM Holdings neared the top of the fallers board with a drop of 15.5p to 903.5p.

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