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September 23, 2010    

Amec, Petrofac, BG Group lead 100 higher

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by Elaine Frei
Amec, Petrofac, BG Group lead 100 higher

European equities markets were lower Thursday on new concerns about debt issue for some governments in the region.

The FTSE 100 was 0.09 percent lower to 5,547.08 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.21 percent to 10,426.02.

The energy sector was in focus as companies related to the oil and gas industry were the top three gainers on the 100, with Amec (LSE: AMEC), which provides engineering services to the energy industry, added 1.83 percent for the best performance on the index, followed by construction and chemical engineering group Petrofac Ltd (LSE: PFC), which was up 1.75 percent while oil and gas explorer BG Group (LSE: BG) gained 1.7 percent.

Explorer Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) provided the best performance in the energy sector, adding 2.87 percent on the 250, while Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR), which has interest in both the oil industry and in power generation, was the worst performer in the sector as it dropped 1.85 percent.

The mining sector was also mixed, with Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR) leading gains in the sector, on the 250 and in London generally as it added 7.89 percent, while gold miner Centamin Egypt (LSE: CEY) dropped 1.49 percent for the worst day in the sector.

DIY retailer Kingfisher (LSE: KGF) fell the most on the 100, dropping 1.92 percent, while asset managers Henderson Group (LSE: HGG) was the worst perfomer on the 250 and in London as it fell 4.99 percent after Citigroup downgraded it from “buy” to “hold”.

There were more losers than gainers in the travel and leisure sector as Domino’s Pizza UK & IRL (LSE: DOM) added 3.32 percent, followed by pubs operator Enterprise Inns (LSE: ETI) with a gain of 3.11 percent, while air carrier easyJet (LSE: EZJ) had the worst day in the sector as it dropped 2.25 percent.

In the pharmaceuticals sector, AstraZeneca was down 1.12 percent after Exane BNP Paribas cut its recommendation on the drug maker from “neutral” to “underperform”, while GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) dropped 1.38 percent after it said it will no longer promote Avandia, its diabetes drug which turned out to raise the risk of heart attack in its users.

The drug will only be on limited sale in the United States, while it will be withdrawn from the market altogether in Europe.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was 0.14 percent lower to 1,065 while the Dax fell 0.38 percent to 6,184.71, the IBEX was 0.51 percent lower to 10,501.5 and the CAC-40 dropped 0.65 percent to 3,710.61.

The few markets that were open in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed.

In Australia, the Sydney Ordinaries added 0.11 percent to 4,680 while the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.18 percent to 4,633.6.

Building materials group James Hardie Industries (ASX: JHX), which is the biggest seller of home siding in the United States, dropped 0.7 percent after new data from the US Federal Housing Finance Agency showed that US home prices were down for the 8th month in a row in July.

Miners saw gains, with BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) up 0.8 percent, while Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX: NCM) added 1 percent and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) gained 1.5 percent.

Taiwan’s Taiex was also higher, gaining 0.07 percent to 8,202.54, but India’s Sensex dropped 0.4 percent to 19,861.01 and the Straits Times Index was down 0.42 percent to 3,083.13 in Singapore.

Tokyo’s markets were closed in observance of the Autumnal Equinox, while markets in Hong Kong, China and South Korea were also closed in celebration of various harvest and autumnal festivals.

New York markets were mixed as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.01 percent lower to 10,737.84 and the S&P 500 had dropped 0.05 percent to 1,133.69, but the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.55 percent, helped by gains in the technology sector.

Otherwise, news was mixed as the National Association of Realtors said that existing home sales were up 7.6 percent in August, but the US Labor Department reported that new unemployment claims were up by an unexpectedly high 12,000 to 465,000 last week.

Analysts expected the unemployment claims to rise, but only by about 2,000 filings.

Crude oil prices were slightly higher in New York trade, and metals prices were also up.

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