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Tuesday 19th of May 2009
March 10, 2009

Prudential leads London insurers higher

by Elaine Frei
Prudential leads London insurers higher

European equities markets saw substantial gains Tuesday as banks raced higher on reports that a memo issued by the head of Citigroup (NYSE: C) said that the bank is having its best quarter since 2007.

In London, the FTSE 100 added 4.88 percent to 3,715.23 while the FTSE 250 was up 3.21 percent to 5,954.8.

Insurers led the 100 as Prudential (LSE: PRU; NYSE: PUK) added 21.01 percent in the best performance on the 100 during the session, followed by Friends Provident (LSE: FP) with a gain of 20.62 percent while Standard Life (LSE: SLET) was 19.8 percent higher.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 4.97 percent to 689.94 while the IBEX added 4.93 percent to 7,153.3, the Dax was 5.28 percent higher to 3,886.98 and the CAC-40 gained 5.73 percent to 2,663.68.

Most Asia-Pacific markets also saw gains, but both the Nikkei 225 and the Topix index dropped to new multi-decade lows in Tokyo.

The Nikkei was 0.44 percent lower to 7,054.98, a new 26-year closing low, while the Topix was down 0.99 percent to 703.5, its lowest close in 25 years, and the Mothers market fell 0.26 percent to 279.77.

Besides the declines in Tokyo, the Sensex was down 1.99 percent to 8,160.4 in India.

There were gains elsewhere, including in Australia, where the Sydney Ordinaries added 0.69 percent to 3,143.2 and the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.95 percent to 3,184.5.

The Taiex gained 0.92 percent to 4,671.02 in Taiwan, while the Shanghai Composite was up 1.88 percent to 2,158.57, the Kospi was 1.91 percent higher to 1,092.2, the Straits Times Index added 1.98 percent to 1,485.75 and the Hang Seng gained 3.08 percent in 11,694.05 in Hong Kong.

New York equities markets were also up substantially in afternoon trade as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4.66 percent to 6,852.26 at just past 2 p.m. while at the same time the Nasdaq Composite was 5.98 percent to 1,344.52 and the S&P 500 had added 5.42 percent to 713.22.

Crude oil and precious metals prices were lower on the session while base metals and grains prices saw advances.

The US dollar weakened as equities markets advanced.

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