Markets: Tullow hit by disappointing wells

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DISAPPOINTING results from exploration wells in Ghana and Guyana meant Tullow Oil was the biggest faller in the FTSE 100 index.

The stock dropped 8.4 per cent or 106p to close at 1,150p after announcing that it has put assets in the UK and Dutch North Sea sectors up for sale and will buy Oslo-based Spring Energy for £232 million.

Costa coffee-owner Whitbread headed in the opposite direction, storming to near the top of the Footsie after it revealed another strong performance at its coffee chain. Shares in Whitbread rose 60p to 2,488p amid speculation that the recent furore over the tax arrangements of rivals Starbucks and Caffe Nero has helped business as customers vote with their feet.

The group said Costa’s like-for-like sales increased by 7.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to 29 November, while its Premier Inn division reported a 2.5 per cent rise in like-for-like sales.

The wider FTSE closed up 3.34 points at 5,924.97, having hit a high of 5,938 earlier in the day, its highest level since March, when the index touched 5,965.

Glasgow-based engineering firm Weir Group followed mining stocks higher, closing up 1.8 per cent or 32p at 1,845p.

Polymetal International ended the day up 29p or 2.7 per cent at 1,116p after agreeing to buy a Russian gold and silver mine from Aim-quoted Ovoca Gold in return for Polymetal shares. Ovoca soared 23.7 per cent or 2.25p to 11.75p.

NEW YORK: Wall Street rose last night, led by gains in technology companies, helping the S&P 500 end at its best level since the US election day last month.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 79.02 points, or 0.60 per cent, to close at 13,248.90 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ended the day up 9.31 points, or 0.66 per cent, at 1,427.86.