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November 23, 2009    

Banks gain in London, led by Royal Bank of Scotland

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by Elaine Frei
Banks gain in London, led by Royal Bank of Scotland

European equities markets were higher Monday after good news on housing out of the United States, where the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes in the US were up 10.1 percent in October on demand created by a tax credit for some buyers.

The FTSE 100 added 1.98 percent to 5,355.5 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 1.12 percent to 9,270.11.

The banking sector was higher, lead by Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS) with a gain of 5.01 that was the best performance on the 100, while Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) added 4 percent and Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) was up 3.77 percent after demand for a bond exchange was strong, which was taken as a sign that there will be plenty of buyers for the bank’s upcoming rights issue.

The energy sector was mixed, with gainers led by oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS), which added 5.92 percent on the 250.

On the other hand, Lamprell (LSE: LAM), which does construction and engineering related to gas and oil operations, was the worst performer on the 250 and dropped the most in London with a decline of 6.04 percent while another energy-related group, Petrofac Ltd (LSE: PFC) was the biggest decliner on the 100 as it dropped 1.24 percent.

Among other oil and gas explorers, Heritage Oil (LSE: HOIL) was down 4.69 percent on the 250, while Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) fell 0.32 percent on the 100.

All miners were higher, with the exception of Gem Diamonds (LSE: GEMD), which fell 0.46 percent, while iron ore miner Ferrexpo (LSE: FXPO) was the biggest gainer in London on the session, adding 18.28 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.98 percent to 1,022.83 while the IBEX added 1.89 percent to 11,940.5, the CAC-40 was 2.25 percent higher to 3,813.17 and the Dax gained 2.44 percent to 5,801.48.

There were no losers on the session on the Dax, and only two stocks declined on the CAC-40.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on the session, but the Kospi was 0.1 percent lower to 1,619.05 in South Korea.

Taiwan’s Taiex added 0.05 percent to 7,687.15, while in Australia the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.67 percent to 4,717 and the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.69 percent to 4,739.2.

The Shanghai Composite was 0.92 percent higher to 3,338.66 while the Sensex added 0.93 percent to 17,180.18, the Straits Times Index was up 1.32 percent to 2,797.88 and the Hang Seng gained 1.41 percent to 22,771.39.

Tokyo’s markets were closed in observance of Labour Thanksgiving Day.

New York markets were higher in midday trade, boosted by the good news regarding existing home sales and on new declines for the US dollar.

At just past 12:30 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 1.18 percent to 10,439.99 while the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.26 percent to 2,172.99 and the S&P 500 was 1.34 percent higher to 1,106.

Gold hit another new record high as it rose above $1,170 per troy ounce in morning trade in New York, while oil prices were also higher, with both helped by the weaker dollar.

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