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Around the World's Markets: London

BLUE CHIPS failed to hold their best levels but, in exceedingly thin trading, Footsie managed to close with a 74.3-point advance to 5,941.5.

The supporting indices also made progress. Futures activity was behind some gains and the usual plethora of New Year tips was another relevant factor. Asda, the superstores chain, remained under the influence of takeover rumours with the shares scoring a 4.25p gain to 163.25p as speculators banked on a bid from US retailing chain, Wal-Mart. Derek Pain, page 13