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November 18, 2009    

Ferrexpo leads miners, gains most in London

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by Elaine Frei
Ferrexpo leads miners, gains most in London

European markets were mixed Wednesday, exemplified by London markets, where the FTSE 100 was 0.07 percent lower to 5,342.13 but the FTSE 250 added 0.32 percent to 9,431.05.

Miners were higher as the dollar weakened again, sending metals prices up, with Ferrexpo (LSE: FXPO) leading the sector as it added 12.41 percent for the best performance on the 250 and in London.

Among other miners, Aquarius Platinum (LSE: AQP) was up 10.29 percent, Fresnillo (LSE: FRES) was 4.9 percent higher and Xstrata (LSE: XTA) gained 4.84 percent.

Clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer (LSE: MKS) led gainers on the 100 as it added 5.89 percent on the announcement that it has hired a new CEO away from food retailer Wm Morrisons (LSE: MRW), which dropped 4.94 percent on the news and took other food retailers lower with it.

Homebuilders were lower, led by Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW) with a decline of 5.18 percent, followed by Persimmon (LSE: PSN), which dropped 4.63 percent.

Meanwhile, building materials group Wolseley (LSE: WOS) was down 3.64 percent on declines in quarterly sales and profits.

The biggest decliner was insurer Lancashire Holdings, which dropped 14.29 percent on the 250, while the worst performance on the 100 came from outsourcers Capita Group, which fell 5.10 percent on fewer new contracts over the first ten months of the year compared to the same period last year.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed on the session.

The Nikkei hit a six-week closing low in Tokyo as it fell 0.55 percent to 9,676.8, while the Topix closed at its lowest since May with a decline of 0.81 percent to 850.06 and the Mothers market dropped 1.35 percent to 368.29.

The real estate sector was lower on the news that Tokyo Tatemono (TYO: 8804) will offer new shares to raise up to $512 million.

Banks were also down ahead of Mitsubishi UFJ’s (TYO: 8306) report, due after the close of trade, on concerns that it could say soon that it will have to raise more cash.

Mitsubishi UFJ was down 0.6 percent, while Sumitomo Mitusi Financial Group (TYO: 8316) fell 5.9 percent.

Japan Airlines (TYO: 9205) was down 3.9 percent at the close after falling as much as 7.8 percent earlier on comments from the Japanese transport minister that he would not exclude bankruptcy as an option for the troubled air carier.

Other indexes seeing declines in the region included the Sensex, which dropped 0.3 percent to 16,998.78 while the Hang Seng was down 0.32 percent to 22,840.33 and the Straits Times Index fell 0.72 percent to 2,745.04.

Australian markets were higher, with the Sydney Ordinaries and the S&P/ASX200 each adding 0.2 percent, to 4,759.6 and 4,739 respectively.

The Taiex was up 0.43 percent to 7,766.69, the Shanghai Composite added 0.62 percent to 3,303.23 and the Kospi gained 1.13 percent to 1,603.97.

New York markets were lower in midday trade, hurt by new data showing that housing starts for both single-family homes and apartments were lower last month.

New home starts dropped by 10.6 percent in October, while applications for building permits were down 4 percent, although applications for permits to build single-family homes dropped just 0.2 percent.

Additionally, the Mortgage Bankers Association said that applications for new home loans were down by 2.5 percent last week.

Even with all this bad news on housing, most US homebuilders were still higher by midday in New York.

At just before 12:30 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.43 percent lower to 10,392.83, while at the same time the Nasdaq Composite had dropped 0.78 percent to 2,186.53 and the S&P 500 was down 0.34 percent to 1,106.5.

Midday trade found prices for crude oil and metals higher on a weaker US dollar.

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