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Sunday 31st of October 2010
October 29, 2010    

Scottish & Southern Energy leads utilites higher in London

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by Elaine Frei
Scottish & Southern Energy leads utilities higher in London

European equities markets were mixed Friday, with most major indexes showing little movement from Thursday’s close.

The FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250 each dropped 0.05 percent in London, to 5,675.16 and 10,843.5 respectively.

The utilities sector was higher, placing three constituents in top five gainers on the 100, after Scottish & Southern Energy (LSE: SSE) said it will raise natural gas prices by 9.4 percent beginning in December.

Scottish & Southern led gains on the 100 as it added 3.41 percent, while Centrica (LSE: CAN) gained 3.23 percent and Severn Trent was up 1.97 percent.

Oil well builder and supplier Hunting Plc (LSE: HTG) was up 6.88 percent to lead the energy sector provide the best performance on the 250, but oil rig builder and refurbisher Lamprell (LSE: LAM) put in the worst performance in the sector as it dropped 2.83 percent on the session.

Oil and gas producers and explorers were also mixed as SOCO International (LSE: SOCO) added 4.53 percent, BG Group (LSE: BG) was up 2.1 percent and Royal Dutch Shell’s ‘A’ shares (LSE: RDSA) gained 1.96 percent, but Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) dropped 2.39 percent.

The biggest decline in the travel and leisure sector came from online gambler PartyGaming (LSE: PRTY), which was down 4.11 percent, but casino and online gaming operator Rank Group (LSE: RNK) turned in the best performance of the day in the sector, adding 2.16 percent.

Still in the travel and leisure sector, British Airways (LSE: BAY) was down 3.56 percent to lead declines on the 100 even though it reported its first profit in two years.

Devro (LSE: DVO), which makes collagen products for food processors, was the worst performer on the 250, droppin 4.82 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.22 percent to 1,088.29 while Frankfurt’s Dax was up 0.09 percent and the IBEX added 0.55 percent to 10,812.9 in Madrid, but the CAC-40 was down 0.03 percent to 3,833.5 in Paris.

Markets were mixed in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Nikkei 225 was down 1.75 percent to 9,202.45 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 0.42 percent to 810.91, but the Mothers market was 0.32 percent higher to 348.1.

Exporters were generally lower as the yen strengthened once again, and many companies were hurt by disappointing quarterly reports and reduced projections.

Video games maker Nintendo (TYO: 7974) was down 2.1 percent after reporting earnings that fell 15 percent in the second quarter, while consumer electronics manufacturer Sharp Corp (TYO: 6753) fell 5.8 percent after it reduced its profits forecast by 40 percent.

Chip-testing equipment maker Advantest (TYO: 6857) dropped 9 percent on a disappointing report on its fiscal first half and after Nomura cut its recommendation on the shares from “neutral” to “reduce”.

Australia’s markets also saw declines as the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.41 percent to 4,733.4 and the S&P/ASX200 fell 0.5 percent to 4,661.6, while the Shanghai Composite was down 0.46 percent to 2,978.83 in China, the Hang Seng was 0.49 percent lower to 23,096.3 in Hong Kong, Taiwan’s Taiex fell 0.8 percent to 8,287.09 and the Kospi dropped 1.31 percent to 1,882.95 in South Korea.

On the other hand, the Straits Times Index was up 0.42 percent to 3,142.62 in Singapore and India’s Sensex added 0.46 percent to 20,032.3.

New York equities markets were mostly flat as investors hesitated to make many moves ahead of congressional elections scheduled for Tuesday in the US and as they waited to see what moves the Federal Reserve might announce toward easing monetary policy at its next meeting, also scheduled for next week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.04 percent to 11,118.7 in midday trade, while at the same time the S&P 500 was up just 0.01 percent to 1,183.85 and the Nasdaq Composite was up a little more, adding 0.31 percent to 2,515.16.

Crude oil prices were lower, with December contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude down just over $1 per barrel.

Precious metals were higher as gold added $13.70 at midday to $1,356.20 per troy ounce, but copper prices had fallen 5 cents at midday.

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