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August 23, 2010    

Insurer Amlin drops on decline in first-half profits

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by Elaine Frei
Insurer Amlin drops on decline in first-half profits

European equities markets were higher Monday.

The FTSE 100 was 0.76 percent higher to 5,234.84 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 0.67 percent to 9,826.15.

Most of the insurance sector saw gains, but Amlin (LSE: AML) fell 3.25 percent after it reported that first half profits were down 39 percent on a near-doubling of claims.

On the other hand, Old Mutual (LSE: OML) added 3.22 percent after it said it might sell 70 percent of its stake in South Africa’s Nedbank Group Ltd (JSE: NED) to HSBC Holdings (LSE: HSBA), while Aviva (LSE: AV) added 3.22 percent.

The biggest gainer on the 100 was from the energy sector, where Petrofac Ltd (LSE: PFC), as the construction and chemical engineering group that offers services to the oil industry added 3.6 percent, while power generator rental company Aggreko (LSE: AGK) fell 2.72 percent for the biggest decline on the index.

Most miners were higher, with Aquarius Platinum (LSE: AQP) adding 2.69 percent to lead the sector’s gains, while Eurasian Natural Resources (LSE: ENRC) was the biggest decliner as it dropped 2.25 percent.

BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT) and Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) added 0.49 percent and 0.52 percent respectively, with investors in the two Australia-based miners hoping that a proposed Australian tax on mining will be abandoned or weakened after elections over the weekend were inconclusive.

Over on the 250, IT services provider Computacenter (LSE: CCC) added 8.11 percent for the best result in London, while property developer St. Modwen Properties (LSE: SMP) fell the most in London with a decline of 5.44 percent.

Also in the real estate sector, student housing developer Unite Group (LSE: UTG) was down 2.58 percent, but residential property developer Grainger (LSE: GRI) added 4.4 percent for the best performance in the sector.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.57 percent to 1,035.42 while the Dax added 0.1 percent to 6,010.91, the CAC-40 was 0.77 percent higher to 3,533.23 and the IBEX bained 1.26 percent to 10,221.2.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower ahead of more US data to be issued this week which is expected to continue a trend indicating that the US economy is not recovering as expected from the recession, including a report on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors which could show that home re-sales were down in July from June.

The Nikkei 225 was down 0.68 percent to 9,116.69 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 0.58 percent to 824.79 but the Mothers market added 0.49 percent to 377.23.

Exporters dropped as the yen strengthened yet again.

Consumer electronics manufacturers were lower as Panasonic (TYO: 6752) fell 0.56 percent, while Sony (TYO: 6758) was down 1.54 percent and Sharp (TYO: 6753) was 2.46 percent lower.

Camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) was down 1.39 percent, while conglomerate Toshiba (TYO: 6502) dropped 1.66 percent.

Automobile manufacturers also saw declines, with Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) falling 0.53 percent, while Nissan Motor (TYO: 7201) was 0.61 percent lower and Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) dropped 0.83 percent.

The S&P/ASX200 was down 0.04 percent to 4,429 and the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.4 percent to 4,460.5 in Australia after Saturday’s elections there failed to provide a majority government for the first time in 70 years.

The Shanghai Composite fell 0.11 percent to 2,766.04, the Straits Times Index was 0.36 percent lower to 2,925.99 in Singapore, South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.44 percent to 2,766.04 and the Hang Seng also dropped 0.44 percent, to 20.889.01, in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, India’s Sensex was up 0.04 percent to 18,409.35 while the Taiex gained 0.61 percent to 7,975.93 in Taiwan.

New York markets were mixed as the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.01 percent to 10,215.05 and the S&P 500 was up 0.04 percent to 1,072.14, but the Nasdaq Composite was 0.43 percent lower to 2,170.28.

Tech stocks were lower as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) was rumored to be about to enter a bidding war with Dell Inc (NAS: DELL) for California-based data storage group 3PAR (NYSE: PAR).

Crude oil prices were lower, with West Texas Intermediate crude trading just below $73 per barrel in New York trade, and metals prices fell as the US dollar strengthened.

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