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July 30, 2010    

United Utilities leads water utilities up in London

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by Elaine Frei
United Utilities leads water utilities up in London

European equities markets were mostly lower Friday after the US gross domestic product was reported only 2.4 percent higher in the second quarter, close to expectations but well below the revised 3.7 percent growth in the first quarter.

The FTSE 100 was down 1.05 percent to 5,258.02 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 1.25 percent to 9,948.72.

United Utilities Group (LSE: UU) led gains on the 100, adding 4.37 percent, followed by fellow water utility Severn Trent (LSE: SVT), which was up 2.34 percent, while Pennon Group (LSE: PNN) was also up 2.34 percent and Northumbrian Water Group (LSE: NWG) gained 0.7 percent.

Over on the 250, engineering services group Bodycote (LSE: BOY) added 4.87 percent to lead all gains in London.

Most retailers lost ground, led by automobile retailer Inchcape (LSE: INCH), which dropped 6.5 percent and led declines on the 250, but home furnishings retailer Dunelm Group (LSE: DNLM) added 4.86 percent to lead a few gainers in the sector, while funeral services group Dignity (LSE: DTY) was up 3.08 percent.

The energy sector was mostly down, with Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) leading the way with a decline of 6.23 percent while wind turbine gearbox manufacturer Hansen Transmissions International (LSE: HSN) dropped 4.88 percent, but BG Group (LSE: BG) led three gainers in the sector as it added 0.84 percent.

Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR), with interest both in oil and in power generation, dropped 3.45 percent to lead declines on the 100.

British Airways (LSE: BAY) added 1.67 percent despite reporting that its fiscal first quarter loss was bigger than its loss in the same quarter last year due to strikes and closures because of an ash cloud over Europe earlier in the year.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.07 percent to 1,046.14 while the CAC-40 fell 0.24 percent to 3,642.14 and the IBEX dropped 1.5 percent to 10,499.8, but the Dax added 0.22 percent to 6,147.97.

Equities markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower on concerns ahead a report on the US gross domestic product, due later in the day, which is expected to show that the US economy slowed down in the second quarter.

The Nikkei 225 was down 1.64 percent to 9,537.3 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 1.37 percent to 849.5 and the Mothers market dropped 1.35 percent to 398.48 after reports that Japan’s unemployment rate grew to 5.3 percent in June from 5.2 percent in May and that factory output in Japan dropped by 1.5 percent in June from May, against an expected gain of 0.2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ (TYO: 8306) dropped 0.92 percent while Mizuho Financial Group (TYO: 8411) was down 1.4 percent on concerns about the economy.

On the other hand, consumer lender Acom (TYO: 8572) added 5.8 percent after reporting that its operating profit more than doubled in its fiscal first quarter.

Some exporters were hurt by a strengthening yen.

Camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) dropped 0.79 percent while consumer electronics manufacturer Sharp Corporation (TYO: 6753) fell 2.17 percent, but Sony (TYO: 6758) and Panasonic (TYO: 6752) were both higher on improved full-year outlooks, citing better than anticipated sales of flat-screen televisions.

Sony added 3.6 percent after it upped its full-year profit forecast by 20 percent from previous estimates, while Panasonic was up 6.04 percent after it improved its outlook by 70 percent.

Shares related to semiconductors were lower as Advantest (TYO: 6857) fell 1.89 percent and Tokyo Electron (TYO: 8035) was 2.73 percent lower.

Industrial robot manufacturer Fanuc (TYO: 6954) dropped 3.59 percent.

Elsewhere in the region the Hang Seng was down 0.3 percent to 21,029.81 in Hong Kong while the Straits Times Index fell 0.33 percent to 2,987.7 in Singapore, the Shanghai Composite was 0.4 percent lower to 2,637.5, Taiwan’s Taiex dropped 0.49 percent to 7,760.63, the Kospi fell 0.65 percent to 1,759.33 in South Korea and India’s Sensex was down 0.69 percent to 17,868.29.

The Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.63 percent to 4,507.4 in Australia, while the S&P/ASX200 was 0.68 percent lower to 4,493.5.

New York markets were mixed at just past 12:30 p.m. local time as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.21 percent lower to 10,445.09 and the S&P 500 had dropped 0.17 percent to 1,099.63, but the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.02 percent to 2,252.22.

Crude oil prices were lower in midday trade in New York, but West Texas Intermediate September contracts were still trading near $78 per barrel, while metals prices were up as gold had added $9.50 per troy ounce.

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