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November 3, 2010    

Lloyds Banking Group leads London banks higher

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by Elaine Frei
Lloyds Banking Group leads London banks higher

European equities markets were lower Wednesday ahead of decisions from the US Federal Reserve on interest rates and economic stimulus measures.

The FTSE 100 was 0.15 percent lower to 5,748.97 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.47 percent to 10,876.3..

Banks were mostly higher in London, with three of the top five gainers on the 100 in the sector, led by Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) up 2.69 percent to lead gains on the index after it named a new chief executive officer, while Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) added 2.12 percent and HSBC Holdings (LSE: HSBA) gained 1.84 percent.

The only decliner in the sector was Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS), which fell 0.57 percent on rumors that it is in deal talks with Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ (TYO: 8306).

Aerospace and defense group Cobham (LSE: COB) was the worst performer on the 100, falling 9.54 percent after it said profits growth could be hurt by delays in contracts in the United States, while fellow aerospace and defense contractor BAE Systems (LSE: BA) dropped 2.94 percent.

Kitchen cabinet makers Howden Joinery Group (LSE: GFRM), formerly known as Galiform, was the best performer on the 250, adding 13.21 percent on the session.

Online gambler PartyGaming (LSE: PRTY) dropped 7.49 percent in its second consecutive day as the biggest loser on the 250.

Also in the travel and leisure sector, pubs operator Punch Taverns (LSE: PUB) dropped 5.07 percent, but pubs and restaurants operator Mitchells and Butlers (LSE: MAB) was the best performer in the sector with a gain of 3.25 percent and Enterprise Inns (LSE: ETI) was 1.89 percent higher.

Most miners were lower, led down by Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO), which dropped 4.41 percent on costs that are going up, but there were some gainers in the sector, with Vedanta Resources (LSE: VED) doing best as it added 2.19 percent.

The energy sector was mixed, as oil rig builder and refurbisher Lamprell (LSE: LAM) added 3.44 percent but oil and gas explorer Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) dropped 3.09 percent for the worst performance in the sector.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.52 percent to 1,087.99 while the Dax fell 0.55 percent to 6,617.8, the CAC-40 was 0.59 percent lower to 3,842.94 and the IBEX dropped 1.79 percent to 10,569.5 on declines for Spanish banks.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher Wednesday as the results of congressional and gubernatorial elections in the United States became clear.

The Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.43 percent to 4,793.8 in Australia, while the S&P/ASX200 added 0.43 percent to 4,793.8.

India’s Sensex was up 0.59 percent to 20,465.7, the Straits Times Index added 0.61 percent to 3,224.97 in Singapore, South Korea’s Kospi was 0.93 percent higher to 1,935.97, and the Hang Seng gained 2 percent to 24,144.7 in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.47 percent to 3,030.99 and Taiwan’s Taiex dropped 0.61 percent to 8,293.9.

Tokyo’s markets were closed for Culture Day, which recognizes the announcement of Japan’s new constitution after the end of World War II.

New York markets were lower ahead of the Federal Reserve’s announcements on rates and an anticipated announcement on more measures to stimulate the US economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial average was down 0.22 percent to 11,163.9 in afternoon trade, while the S&P 500 had dropped 0.28 percent to 1,190.21 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.34 percent lower to 2,524.81.

Crude oil prices were up after the US Energy Information Administration reported that while crude oil inventories were up last week, gasoline and distillates stockpiles fell significantly, with December contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude at $84.50 per barrel in afternoon trade.

On the other hand, metals prices were lower, with December gold down around $20 per ounce.

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