Updates from Randgold Resources, Hansteen and John Lewis

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The FTSE 100 completed its Christmas run-up by moving almost 15 points higher, to 5,954. About +1.5% higher compared to the start of the month. Vedanta Resources was the biggest gainer, up +1.91% while CRH saw the largest drift down, falling -1.99% lower.

In Asia today the Nikkei climbed +0.91% to 10,322 points while the Hang Seng gained +0.46%, to 22,641.

First off after the Christmas break, reports of a fire at a Tongon Randgold Resources gold mine in Côte d'Ivoire, in a mill section. There have already been power supply issues at Tongon. The latest fire may affect future production estimates.

The fire started on 24 December during a planned shutdown for repairs to the No 1 mill cyclone feed pipe, says Randgold. The fire then spread upwards into the No 1 cyclone cluster and moved to the No 2 cyclone cluster.

Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow said the full extent of the damage was still being assessed but the mills themselves have been unaffected and that the mine had already started to make short term repairs including temporary relining of the various pieces of equipment whilst sourcing replacement parts.

Next, property investor Hansteen claims it has exchanged contracts with The Industrial Trust to buy a portfolio of multi-let industrial estates, for £60.0 million gross (£56.8 million net) from existing cash resources and debt via a new facility with Royal Bank of Scotland.

The portfolio, which forms part of The Industrial Trust, comprises 32 estates, totals 1.6 million square ft located across the UK. Hansteen claims it has an annual rent roll of £6.1 million, a vacancy rate of 16% and an estimated rental value (ERV) of £6.7 million per year.

The acquisition, due to complete on 31 January 2013, should show a net initial yield of 10.1%. "It has strong fundamentals," says Mark Ovens of Hansteen, "with a great opportunity to add value through improving occupancy and imposing our management approach via our network of regionally based asset managers."

Finally, John Lewis claims it has had its best Christmas sales recored ever with record Boxing Day crowds. Sales hit £157.8m last week, a 26.5% hike on the same week a year ago.

"To be announcing another record-breaking pre-Christmas week," says MD Andy Street, "along with such a fantastic start to our online clearance is marvellous news, and is very encouraging ahead of our shops opening their doors tomorrow morning."

However, the British Retail Consortium has cautioned that 2012 Christmas trading was not exceptional. British Retail Consortium Director General Helen Dickinson says there's every sign that the ongoing endurance test for retailers of trading in a largely no-growth environment will continue well into 2013.

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