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Tuesday 02nd of December 2008
February 7, 2007

Equities markets mixed

by Elaine Frei
Equities markets mixed

The Tokyo equities markets declined on Wednesday, with the Nikkei 225 down 0.7 percent to 17,292.32 and the Topix index lower by a smaller 0.2 percent to 1,728.36. Export-focused sectors were hurt by strength in the yen ahead of the G7 meeting. The yen was weaker than it had been on Tuesday but was still much stronger than it had been in late January. The auto sector remained nearly even, while electronics companies saw declines.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 0.2 percent on the session to 1,546.70 as the energy sector saw gains but carmakers declined. In the semiconductors sector, Infineon was up substantially. Swiss drug maker Roche declined on full-year profits that were up to predictions but not impressive.

In London, the FTSE 100 added 0.4 percent to 6,369.5, while the FTSE 250 and the FTSE All-Share each added 0.2 percent to 11,502 and 3,301.77 respectively. Both the 250 and the All-Share set new record highs again, for the second day in a row. Shares in British Airways hit an eight-and-a-half high after Merrill Lynch increased both its recommendation and its target share price. Miners were higher after BHP Billiton announced new share buy-backs.

Wall Street was mixed at mid-afternoon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.2 percent to 12,645.48, while the S&P 500 was even at 1,447.93 after gains early in the day reversed. The Nasdaq Composite was 0.6 percent higher to 2,486.12 on fiscal second quarter results from Cisco Systems, released after the close on Tuesday.

Crude oil prices were down by more than $1 per barrel in the afternoon after initial increases shortly after the Energy Information Administration released new US inventories figures. The new data showed crude oil unexpectedly lower. While distillate inventories were lower as well, demand was lower than had been anticipated. Gasoline inventories were up more than expected during the week ending Feb 2. In other commodities, base metals prices were lower, while gold prices advanced slightly.

The yen weakened as it became less likely that recent declines for the Japanese currency would be a major topic at the G7 meeting coming up in Germany. The Swiss franc was slightly stronger, as was the euro, while sterling declined versus the US dollar ahead of this week’s meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.

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