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FTSE falls on US stimulus meeting worries

Markets slipped back amid uncertainty over next week's all-important meeting of US policymakers on the future of the massive stimulus programme for the world's biggest economy.

Mining stocks were again under pressure amid concern about when the Federal Reserve will begin to start easing back on the country's multibillion-dollar monthly programme of quantitative easing.

The FTSE-100 slipped 36.2 points to 6523.3 while there were sharper falls on France's Cac 40 and Germany's Dax.

On currency markets, sterling failed to benefit from an improvement in UK manufacturing in October - as the trade deficit remained stubbornly high at £2.6 billion. The pound was flat at 1.64 US dollars and 1.19 euros.

In London, among the mining stocks, BHP Billiton fell 36.5p to 1807.5p and Vedanta Resources dipped 17.5p to 804p.

Lloyds Banking Group initially rose as it secured a profit of £105 million on the placing of its remaining 21% stake in wealth manager St James's Place for £680 million.

Analysts said the sale boosted hopes that Lloyds will be able to convince regulators that it is financially strong enough to resume dividend payments to shareholders in February. But it closed flat at 78.2p.

Thomson holidays company TUI Travel ended lower, off 5.7p to 378.3p, despite a better-than-expected 21% rise in full-year underlying profits to a record £473m.

Chief executive of TUI Travel, Peter Long, told the City that it had been an "outstanding" year and that current trading remained robust.

Royal Mail dipped 0.5p to 596.5p as the newly-listed company prepares for life in the FTSE-100 Index.

The latest reshuffle of the blue-chip index is based on this session's closing prices, prior to being implemented on December 20.

The newly privatised company's promotion to the London top-flight following a share price rise of around 80% will more than likely add fuel to accusations that the Business Secretary Vince Cable sold the group off on the cheap.

This quarter's FTSE reshuffle is set to be dominated by recent flotations, with Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments and estate agency Foxtons also on course to join the FTSE-250 Index.

Chemicals company Croda International and mining company Vedanta are set to be relegated from the FTSE-100.

The biggest FTSE 100-risers were Randgold Resources, up 164p to 4141p, Hargreaves Lansdown up 44p to 1272p, Weir Group up 60p to 2132p and Fresnillo up 14p to 756p.

The biggest FTSE-100 fallers were Standard Chartered, which was down 30p to 1284p, Vedanta Resources, which declined from 17.5p to 804p, BHP Billiton down 36.5p to 1807.5p and Tullow Oil down 16p to 853.5p.

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