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M & S and Tesco placed on the fallers board

The FTSE 100 Index held its position at a two-month high today as investors awaited direction from the latest update on the US economy.

The figure on job creation later today is likely to be the lowest since June, although analysts point out the result will be distorted by superstorm Sandy in October.

Ahead of the update, investors were happy to sit on recent gains and leave the FTSE 100 Index just three points lower at 5898.5.

Oil prices were also holding firm at 86 US dollars a barrel in New York as traders awaited the release of inflation, retail sales and factory output data from China on Sunday.

In the FTSE 100 Index, Tate & Lyle shares were more than 1% higher after it reduced the risk on its pension scheme through an agreement with annuity provider Legal & General. Shares were 8.75p higher at 769.75p.

Marks & Spencer topped the fallers board with a decline of 6.8p to 391p, while Tesco was not far behind with a drop of 3.9p to 335.7p.

Outside the top flight, shares in housebuilder Berkeley jumped 5% after it unveiled the first payment in a decade-long plan to return to £1.7 billion to shareholders. The interim dividend of 15p a share came as it reported a 40.7% rise in half-year profits to £142.2 million. Shares lifted 87p to 1737p.

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