FTSE level, BP gains on Royal Dutch Shell bid talk

* FTSE flat as investors focus on U.S. Fed announcement

* Energy shares strong, BP boosted by bid talk

* Whitbread sheds 3.2 pct after results

By David Brett

LONDON, Dec 14 (BestGrowthStock) – Gains in energy stocks offset
falling miners, leaving Britain’s top share index almost level
on Tuesday, with BP (BP.L: ) the top riser on vague market talk of
bid interest from Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: ).

By 1156 GMT the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ) was 1.15 points higher at
5,861.90 in light trade, after rising 0.8 percent on Monday to
its highest close since Nov. 9.

“We saw some good gains yesterday but investors seem content
with the index hovering near its year-high (5,902.11) and little
in the way of drivers to push us on today,” Jimmy Yates, head of
equities at CMC Markets, said.

BP rose 2.3 percent, with traders citing talk of potential
bid interest from Royal Dutch Shell. Both companies chose not to
comment.

The oil major was also helped by a bullish note from Credit
Suisse, which raised its forecasts for oil prices in 2011 and
reiterated that BP is its top pick in the sector.

BP said it had agreed to sell a portfolio of oil and gas
assets in Pakistan for $775 million, higher than analyst
estimates, as it raises cash to pay for the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill. [ID:nSGE6B805H]

Energy shares (.FTNMX0530: ) were the main support on London’s
blue-chip index, aided by a rise in crude prices that was
sparked by data on Monday highlighting China’s continued growth.

Bunzl (BNZL.L: ) climbed 1.4 percent after Numis raised the
stock to “buy” from “add”, after the packaging distributor
reported full-year results. [ID:nLDE6BD0D1]

EYES ON FED

Traders kept money on the sidelines ahead of a U.S. Federal
Reserve Open Market Committee announcement.

Analysts expect the Fed to remain in a holding pattern as
officials evaluate the recent launch of a second round of
quantitative easing. [ID:nN13201941]

“Any indication that there is going to be more caution from
the Fed could send a little wave through equity markets, but I
think this is unlikely and everybody’s hoping there will be no
shocks between now and next week,” said Giles Watts, head of
equities at City Index.

Wall Street futures pointed to a flat open on Tuesday, with
U.S. economic data including November retail sales and producer
prices due at 1330 GMT, and October business inventories at 1500
GMT.

In the UK, consumer price inflation rose unexpectedly to a
six-month high of 3.3 percent in November. [ID:nAHLDNE6B2]

Miners (.FTNMX1770: ) were the biggest drag on the FTSE with
Lonmin (LMI.L: ) down 1.8 percent.

Whitbread (WTB.L: ) was the heaviest blue-chip faller, down
3.2 percent despite strong profit growth this financial year, as
Panmure Gordon downgraded it to “hold” from “buy”, saying it
does not expect consensus expectations to be raised.

TUI Travel (TT.L: ) fell 1.3 percent, with traders citing
valuation grounds after parent company TUI AG (TUIGn.DE: )
reported full-year results.

Aviva (AV.L: ) shed 1.1 percent after UBS started coverage of
the insurer with a “neutral” rating and 400 pence target.
(Editing by David Hulmes)

FTSE level, BP gains on Royal Dutch Shell bid talk