London close: FTSE ends half-day session with small gains

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- Modest gains for FTSE ahead of Christmas break
- Concern for retailer in the coming year
- House prices fell in December

The FTSE made modest gains on Monday - a half day for markets, which will re-open in London on Thursday 27th.

It was revealed today that three-quarters of households are anticipating another difficult year with no improvement to their financial situation.

According to Markit's household finance index, two of the chief concerns are job security and inflation.

In all, the index came in at 36.8 for December, with a reading higher than 50 marking an improvement in personal financial situations, and a reading below indicating deteriation. The reading actually compares favourably to a year ago, when December 2011 stood at 34.3.

Of those questioned, about 43% believe their financial situation will get worse, while 24% expect to see an improvement.

Those working in construction showed the most concern, while on manufacturing workers anticipate a more positive year in 2013.

National House Prices

It has been predicted that the national average house price is set to drop one per cent in the coming year. According to Hometrack, families facing financial woes will become increasingly reluctant to add to their debt levels and this will in turn affect house sales.

Hometrack's monthly data report has revealed that property prices dropped 0.1% in December compared to November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) , its sixth decline in a row. Over the year prices are down 0.3%.

Tough time for Retailers

Things are looking tough for retailers, with business recovery group Begbies Traynor warning that an increasing number of both national and regional retail chains are heading for insolvency following a challenging year of trading.

The group's research shows that 13,700 retailers suffered significant financial distress between the start of October and mid-December.

Company News

ITV (LSE: ITV.L - news) has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Gurney Productions, an independent producer of US cable television networks. The UK TV network is purchasing a 61.5% stake in Gurney Productions for $40m, with a put and call option to buy the remaining 38.5% interest in the company. The put and call could be made from three years after the initial deal.

Global medical technology company Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN.L - news) announced Monday it has completed the acquisition of a substantial stake in Healthpoint Biotherapeutics. The FTSE 100 company paid $782m in cash for the assets, financed from the existing cash resources and bank facilities. The transaction increases Smith & Nephew's position in bioactives, the fastest growing area of advanced wound management.

Electric Word, which provides training services for the education, healthcare and sport sectors, said following its fundraising in August, trading is in line with company expectations.

Ascent Resources has been granted another loan to repay debts and finance projects in the New Year. The European-focused oil and gas exploration company has entered into an agreement with Henderson Global Investors and Henderson Alternative Investment Advisor for the subscription of convertible loan notes of up to £5.5m.

London Stock Exchange Group announced on Monday that it has shaken hands on a deal which will see it purchase a majority stake in LCH.Clearnet, but at a reduced price to that agreed back in April (Paris: FR0004037125 - news) . The company will now purchase the stake at €15 a share, around four euros lower than previously agreed price.




FTSE 100 - Risers
Vedanta Resources (Other OTC: VDNRF - news) (VED) 1,173.00p +1.82%
Burberry Group (Other OTC: BBRYF - news) (BRBY) 1,231.00p +1.15%
Xstrata (XTA) 1,063.00p +1.14%
TUI Travel (LSE: TT.L - news) (TT (BSE: TTL.BO - news) .) 285.00p +1.06%
Resolution Ltd. (RSL) 252.60p +1.00%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,890.00p +0.96%
HSBC Holdings (HKSE: 0005.HK - news) (HSBA) 655.60p +0.91%
Diageo (DGE) 1,823.00p +0.86%
Glencore International (Other OTC: GLCNF - news) (GLEN) 354.35p +0.80%
Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ.L - news) (KAZ) 764.50p +0.79%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Carnival (CCL) 2,405.00p -1.52%
British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L - news) (BATS) 3,097.00p -1.43%
CRH (CRH (NYSE: CRH - news) ) 1,239.00p -1.35%
BT Group (LSE: BT-A.L - news) (BT.A) 237.30p -1.04%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,623.00p -0.73%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,168.00p -0.68%
Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO.L - news) (ANTO) 1,343.00p -0.52%
Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL.L - news) (HL.) 685.50p -0.51%
Admiral Group (LSE: ADM.L - news) (ADM) 1,194.00p -0.50%
Bunzl (BNZL) 1,009.00p -0.49%

FTSE 250 - Risers
PZ Cussons (LSE: PZC.L - news) (PZC) 398.90p +5.50%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 103.00p +3.67%
JD Sports Fashion (LSE: JD.L - news) (JD.) 710.00p +3.20%
Carpetright (CPR) 689.00p +2.91%
Diploma (DPLM) 555.00p +2.87%
Hochschild Mining (Other OTC: HCHDF - news) (HOC) 496.50p +2.79%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 248.80p +2.77%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 311.90p +2.60%
Savills (SVS) 459.00p +2.46%
Jupiter Fund Management (JUP) 279.00p +2.27%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Centamin (DI (KSE: 003160.KS - news) ) (CEY) 37.49p -8.29%
Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) 855.50p -3.82%
United Drug (LSE: UDG.L - news) (UDG) 270.70p -2.63%
Dixons Retail (Other OTC: DSITF - news) (DXNS) 28.74p -2.41%
Caledonia Investments (CLDN) 1,532.00p -2.11%
Aveva Group (Other OTC: AVEVF - news) (AVV) 2,114.00p -2.08%
Electra Private Equity (ELTA) 1,930.00p -2.03%
Domino Printing Sciences (Other OTC: DMIPY - news) (DNO) 560.00p -1.67%
F&C Asset Management (LSE: FCAM.L - news) (FCAM) 99.40p -1.58%
International Personal Finance (LSE: IPF.L - news) (IPF) 380.80p -1.50%

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