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November 26, 2010    

London banks decline, led by Royal Bank of Scotland

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by Elaine Frei
London banks decline, led by Royal Bank of Scotland

Worries over tensions between North Korea and South Korea as the North threatened war and continuing concerns over Europe’s debt crisis sent European equities markets lower Friday.

The FTSE 100 was 0.53 percent lower to 5,668.7 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.24 percent to 10,809.4.

Banks were three of the five biggest decliners on the 100, led by a decline of 5.31 percent for Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS), while Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) was down 4.4 percent after a report that the chairman of the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking had called a merger with banking and insurance group HBOS in January 2009 “a mistake”, and Barclays Bank (LSE: BARC) dropped 3.19 percent.

Miners were lower as metals prices fell, led by Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO) with a decline of 3.78 percent, with just one company in the sector seeing gains as Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR) added 2.67 percent.

The energy sector was mixed as oil explorer and refiner and power generator Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR) added 1.59 percent for the best performance in the sector, while oil rig builder and refurbisher Lamprell (LSE: LAM) dropped 2.86 percent for the worst result of the session among energy companies.

The real estate sector was mostly lower as student accommodation specialist Unite Group (LSE: UTG) fell 4.26 percent for the worst day on the 250 as well as in the sector and property investor Daejan Holdings (LSE: DJAN) dropped 2.83 percent, but Capital Shopping Centres Group (LSE: CSCG), formerly Liberty International. added 5.25 percent to lead gains in the sector and on the 100.

Data center Telecity Group (LSE: TCY) gained 6.19 percent to lead advances on the 250.

The telecommunications sector was higher, led by a gain of 4.37 percent for BT Group (LSE: BT.A) after Exane BNP Paribas raised the group’s target share price and upped its earnings forecast.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.53 percent to 1,087.02 while the Dax fell 0.45 percent to 6,848.98, the CAC-40 was 0.84 percent lower to 3,728.65 and the IBEX dropped 1.8 percent to 9,547.2.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower Friday, with declines coming after North Korea warned that it would go to war with South Korea the south offered any further “provocation” after the recent incident in which North Korea and South Korea traded artillery rounds, killing two South Korean soldiers and two civilians, when the North fired on South Korean territory.

Investors in the region also worried about continued monetary policy tightening moves from China, with banks and the real estate sector leading declines in China.

The Nikkei 225 was down 0.4 percent to 10,039.6 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 0.34 percent and the Mothers market dropped 1.46 percent to 384.01.

Brokers were lower in Tokyo, with Nomura Holdings (TYO: 8604) down 2.02 percent, while Daiwa Securities (TYO: 8601) was 2.31 percent lower.

Other decliners in the region included the Straits Times Index, which fell 0.04 percent to 3,158.08 in Singapore, while Taiwan’s Taiex was down 0.45 percent to 8,312.15, the Hang Seng dropped 0.77 percent to 22,877.2 in Hong Kong, the Shanghai Composite was 0.92 percent lower to 2,871.7, India’s Sensex was down 0.94 percent to 19,136.6 the Kospi dropped 1.34 percent to 1,901.8 in South Korea.

Australia’s markets managed to gain ground, with the S&P/ASX200 up 0.11 percent to 4,598.3 while the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.15 percent to 4,690.2.

New York markets were lower just before an early close on the day after the US celebrated the Thanksgiving Day holiday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.73 percent to 11,105.4, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.62 percent to 1,190.98.

The Nasdaq Composite was 0.24 percent lower to 2,537.12 a few minutes before the 1 p.m. early close.

Crude oil prices were lower and metals prices also fell as gold dropped $14.30 per troy ounce at midday and silver was down 71 cents per troy ounce.

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