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Wednesday 31st of March 2010
March 29, 2010    

Xstrata leads most London miners higher

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by Elaine Frei
Xstrata leads most London miners higher

European equities markets were mostly higher Monday, but London’s indexes were mixed as the FTSE 100 added 0.15 percent to 5,711.36 but the FTSE 250 fell 0.22 percent to 10,200.59.

Miner Xstrata (LSE: XTA) led the sector and the winners list on the 100 as it added 3.23 percent on higher metals prices, while Lonmin (LSE: LMI) was up 2.43 percent.

Australia-based miner Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) gained 1.23 percent after it said it will fire four Shanghai-based employees who were convicted of spying and accepting bribes by a court in China and sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven years to fourteen years.

The four plead guilty to the bribery charges, but are expected to file appeals.

Rio Tinto claimed it had no knowledge of the employee’s actions.

Not all miners were higher, with Hochchild Mining (LSE: HOCH)leading declines in the sector as it dropped 1.59 percent.

Hotels and restaurants operator Whitbread (LSE: WTB) was the worst performer on the 100 as it fell 2.58 percent.

Carphone Warehouse (LSE: CPW) led gains on the 250 and among all London shares as it added 7.27 percent as it spun off its fixed-line telecommunications unit as Talk Talk Telecom Group (LSE: TALK), which added 4.35 percent in its first day of trade.

Investment managers Gartmore Group (LSE: GRT) dropped 3.98 percent for the worst performance on the 250.

The media sector was mixed as broadcaster ITV (LSE: ITV) added 3.24 percent, but British Sky Broadcasting Group (LSE: BSY) fell 1.85 percent on a downgrade from “buy” to “neutral” from UBS and Magazine Publisher Euromoney Institutional Investor (LSE: ERM) dropped 2.91 percent.

Banks were lower in London as mortgage approvals fell, with Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS) performing worst in the sector as it dropped 1.78 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.1 percent to 1,078.6 while the IBEX added 0.18 percent to 11,091, the CAC-40 was 0.21 percent higher to 3,997.23 and the Dax gained 0.58 percent to 6,155.54.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed, but more were higher than lower as many banks across the region saw gains and as metals prices rose.

Tokyo markets were mostly lower as the Nikkei 225 was 0.09 percent lower to 10,986.47 and the Topix index dropped 0.06 percent to 966.13 as many stocks traded ex-dividend, but the Mothers market added 0.83 percent to 443.56.

The declines there came even though reports said that Japanese retail sales jumped 4.2 percent in February over the same month last year, after having gone up 2.5 percent in January in the wake of over a year of steady declines.

Most banks were higher.

Mitsubishi UFJ (TYO: 8306) added 2.71 percent on a report that it will launch a joint venture with Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) in May, while Sumitomo Mitusi Financial Group (TYO: 8411) added 3.26 percent, but Mizuho Financial Group (TYO: 8411) dropped 4.1 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi was also lower, falling 3.4 percent to 1,691.99.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.01 percent to 4,897.3 and the Sydney Ordinaries added 0.04 percent to 4,907.2, while India’s Sensex was 0.38 percent higher and the Straits Times Index gained 2,929.14.

The Hang Seng added 0.88 percent to 21,237.43 while Taiwan’s Taiex was 0.9 percent higher to 7,947.45 and the Shanghai Composite gained 2.09 percent to 3,123.8.

The gains for China and Taiwan came as a second round of talks between the two nations regarding a possible trade accord were scheduled for 31 March.

New York markets were up in midday trade after the Commerce Department reported that personal spending was up 0.3 percent in the US in February, roughly in line with analyst predictions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.42 percent to 10,896.01 just before 12:30 p.m. in New York, while the S&P 500 had added 0.5 percent to 1,172.44 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.49 percent higher to 2,406.87.

Crude oil prices had jumped more than $2 in midday trade in New York and London, while metals prices were also higher.

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