FTSE 100 flat on US budget uncertainty

The FTSE 100 was broadly flat in early trading as uncertainty continued over the fate of US budget talks to avert January's so-called "fiscal cliff".

The White House has dismissed a budget deal proposal from congressional Republicans that included tax reforms and spending cuts, saying it did not meet President Barack Obama's pledge to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Meanwhile British retail sales edged up in November, though by less than analysts were expecting, the British Retail Consortium said this morning.

London's leading share index was up 9.4 points – or 0.16 per cent – to 5,880.69 in early trading. The FTSE has struggled to clear the psychologically important 5,900 point in recent days.

Miner Fresnillo posted the biggest fall as shares fell two per cent to £19.50.

Chipmaker ARM Holdings was close behind, falling 1.7 per cent following strong gains in recent days.

Meanwhile plumbing and building supplies group Wolseley dipped as a slightly cautious outlook and weak showings in continental Europe weighed against continued strong growth in North America in the first quarter.

Schroeders continued yesterday's strong performance to top the leaderboard with a 1.5 per cent rise. Investors have flocked to fund managers as the sector stages an end-of-year rally.

Other modest increases were posted by the likes of Centrica, Aviva and RBS.

In the FTSE 250 brewer Greene King reported healthy results, helped by strong food sales at the pubs it manages.

Asian indices were muted, with the Nikkei down 0.27 per cent and the Hang Seng up 0.15 per cent.