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Saturday 22nd of November 2008
February 22, 2007

Wall Street down at midday


by Elaine Frei

Wall Street down at midday

The Tokyo equities markets advanced significantly on Thursday, a day after the Bank of Japan announced that it had voted to raise interest rates to 0.5 percent. The Nikkei 225 added 1.1 percent to 18,108.79, the first time it had gone above 18,000 in nearly seven years. The Topix index gained 0.9 percent to 1,802.90. The Mothers market of small and mid-cap stocks ended the session up 4 percent to 1,162.25. The banking, securities and real estate sectors were all higher.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was 0.3 percent higher to 1,539.94. The insurance sector was higher, but banks were mixed. In the chemicals sector, BASF (NYSE: BF; LSE: BFA) was 5.4 percent higher after a better than anticipated report, and the announcement of a raised dividend and an increased share buyback.

London equities markets were also higher on the session. The FTSE 100 added 0.4 percent to 6,380.9, while the FTSE 250 gained 0.4 percent as well, to 11,584.4. Miners were higher, but the tobacco sector was mixed. Media group Emap (LSE: EMA) was higher on rumors that it could be ready to sell one of its three divisions.

In the United States equities markets were lower at midday as the retail and homebuilding sectors declined. Tech sectors were also lower, mainly due to uncertainties surrounding the ongoing issue of Iran’s unwillingness to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Supermarkets were higher after Whole Foods Markets (NASDAQ: WFM) said it would acquire Wild Oats Markets (NASDAQ: OATS). The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5 percent to 12,678.89, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1 percent to 2,515.35 and the S&P 500 was 0.3 percent lower to 1,454.03.

Crude oil prices rose after the Energy Information Administration released its weekly US inventory figures. While crude oil inventories were 3.7 million barrels due to an increase in imports, gasoline stockpiles were down by 3.1 million barrels last week and distillate inventories dropped by 5 million barrels. Base metals prices were also higher.

The yen weakened again, as did the Swiss franc, while the US dollar and sterling strengthened.

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