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Monday 24th of January 2011
November 30, 2010    

Resolution Ltd leads London insurance sector lower

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by Elaine Frei
Resolution Ltd leads London insurance sector lower

European equities markets were mostly lower Tuesday, although the FTSE Eurofirst 300, which lists the 300 largest European companies as determined by market capitalization, managed to add 0.03 percent to 1,069.52 on the session.

The declines came on concerns that other European nations, perhaps Spain, Portugal or Italy, might look for a bailout next, after the announcement last weekend of a bailout package for Ireland.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.41 percent to 5,528.27 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.77 percent to 10,607.8.

Insurers made up four of the top five decliners on the 100, led by Resolution Ltd (LSE: RSL) which was down 3.78 percent for the worst performance on the index, followed by a 3.73 percent drop for Standard Life (LSE: SL) while Legal & General Group (LSE: LGEN) fell 2.77 percent and Old Mutual (LSE: OML) was 2.47 percent lower.

The best of just three gainers in the insurance sector was insurer and reinsurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group (LSE JLT), which was up 1.66 percent.

Investment managers Ashmore Group (LSE: ASHM) was the biggest decliner on the 250, falling 5.21 percent.

London banks were lower, led by Barclays Bank (LSE: BARC), which was down 2.59 percent, followed by Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LSE: RBS) with a decline of 2.41 percent.

The biggest decliner in a mostly lower energy sector was oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS), which was down 4.21 percent, but the biggest gainer in the sector was Essar Energy (LSE: ESSR), also the best performer on the 100, which added 4.09 percent, followed by oil explorer EnQuest (LSE: ENQ) with a gain of 4.06 percent on the 250, while back over on the 100, Cairn Energy (LSE: CNE) was 2.36 percent higher.

Miners were mixed, with the worst performer, Talvivaara Mining Company (LSE: TALV) down 3.6 percent, while African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG) added 3.38 percent for the best performance in the sector.

De La Rue (LSE: DLAR), which makes and prints currency paper, did the best on the 250, gaining 4.62 percent.

The Dax was down 0.14 percent to 6,688.49 while the IBEX was 0.62 percent lower to 9,267.2 and the CAC-40 dropped 0.73 percent to 3,610.44.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower on continuing concerns about inflation in China and how the government there might choose to try to control it, while investors also continued to worry about how debt problems in parts of Europe might affect the global economy.

The Nikkei 225 was down 1.87 percent to 9,937.04 in Tokyo, while the Topix index fell 1.56 percent to 860.94 and the Mothers market dropped 0.3 percent to 384.78 after new data showing that Japan’s unemployment rate was up to 5 percent in October, higher than expected.

Construction machinery manufacturers were lower in Tokyo, with Komatsu Ltd (TYO: 6301) down 2.4 percent while Hitachi Construction Machinery (TYO: 6305) dropped 3.1 percent.

Both companies do a significant amount of business in China.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index was down 0.43 percent to 3,144.7, while in Australia the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.64 percent to 4,676.4 and the S&P/ASX200 was down 0.74 percent to 4,584.4

The Hang Seng fell 0.68 percent to 23,008 in Hong Kong and the Shanghai Composite was 1.61 percent lower to 2,820.18 in China.

Gainers in the region included Taiwan’s Taiex, which was up 0.06 percent to 8,372.48, while the Kospi added 0.48 percent to 1,904.63 in South Korea and India’s Sensex gained 0.6 percent to 19,521.2.

New York markets were lower in midday trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.35 percent to 11,013.3 shortly before 1 p.m., while the S&P 500 had dropped 0.47 percent to 1,182.16 and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.01 percent lower to 2,499.79.

Crude oil prices were lower in New York and London, while metals prices were up in New York trade, led by a gain of nearly $22 for gold at midday there.

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