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Whitbread results fail to perk up FTSE

Costa coffee owner Whitbread stormed up the blue chip index as it revealed another strong performance at the coffee chain.

Shares in Whitbread were near the top of the risers board on a FTSE-100 Index which struggled to make progress, up 3.3 points at 5924 amid frustration at the pace of negotiations on the looming US fiscal cliff.

However, Wall Street's Dow Jones Industrial Average opened higher amid optimism the US Federal Reserve will announce further asset purchases to stimulate growth today.

The pound was down against the euro at 1.2 after a survey on German investor sentiment revealed a surprise gain in November. The pound was up against the dollar at 1.6.

Shares in Whitbread rose 60p to 2488p amid talk the recent furore over the tax arrangements of rivals Starbucks and Caffe Nero has helped business.

Tullow Oil was the biggest top flight faller after it revealed poor results from exploration wells in Ghana and Guyana.

The blue-chip firm also said it would pay $372.3 million (£232m) for Oslo-based Spring Energy, which has 28 offshore licences across the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas.

And with Tullow planning to dispose of production assets in the UK and Dutch southern North Sea gas basin, shares fell 8% or 106p to 1150p.

Rolls-Royce continued to come under pressure amid the bribery claims relating to contracts in Indonesia.

The engines giant disclosed last week that it was in talks with the Serious Fraud Office in relation to concerns about bribery and corruption in Asia. Shares fell another 2.3%, off 20.5p to 871p.

Water companies were on the risers board, with United Utilities up 7p at 692.5p and Severn Trent 18p stronger at 1573p. South West Water owner Pennon was up 10.5p at 617.5p, although it still faces relegation out of the FTSE 100 Index in the latest quarterly reshuffle this week.

Outside the top flight, Carpetright's half-year results drew a positive response from investors as shares in the floor coverings firm rose 1p to 667.5p.

Underlying profits jumped to £4.5m from £1.4m a year earlier and chief executive Darren Shapland said he saw no need for a radical overhaul of the business, which has around 480 UK stores.

And online fashion retailer ASOS continued to hit the right note in the City after a better-than-expected sales boost of 24% in the UK for the three months to November 30. Shares jumped 102.9p to 2566.9p, a rise of 4%.

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