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Monday 24th of January 2011
January 21, 2011    

Royal Bank of Scotland leads FTSE 100 gains

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by Elaine Frei
Royall Bank of Scotland leads FTSE 100 gains

European equities markets were higher Friday, at least partly on a gain in German business confidence, after the Ifo Institute’s business climate index came in at 110.3, its highest level since reunification.

The FTSE 100 added 0.48 percent to 5,896.25 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.24 percent to 11,532.69, although UK retail sales was reported by the Office for National Statistics to have dropped 0.8 percent in December, from November’s levels.

Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS) was the best performer on the 100 and led gains in a mixed banking sector as it added 6.52 percent on a report that it will exit the UK’s Asset Protection Scheme sooner than anticipated, possibly by the end of the year.

Declines in the banking sector were led by Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN), which was down 1.99 percent.

Gains on the 250 were led by food manufacturer Premier Foods (LSE: PFD) with a gain of 7.71 percent, while the biggest decline on that index came from estate agents Savills (LSE: SVS), which fell 4.41 percent.

Also in the real estate sector, property development and investment group British Land Co (LSE: BLND) dropped 1.34 percent.

The energy sector was higher, led by Exillon Energy (LSE: EXI) with a gain of 6.75 percent, followed by EnQuest (LSE: ENQ), which added 6.05 percent, while the biggest decline in the sector came from Hunting (LSE: HTG), as the oil well builder and supplier dropped 0. 59 percent.

The mining sector was mixed, with Talvivaara Mining Company (LSE: TALV), adding 2.8 percent for the best performance in the sector while Hochschild Mining (LSE: HOC) dropped 2.3 percent for the biggest decline in the sector.

Most utilities were lower, led lower by Northumbrian Water Group (LSE: NWG) as it fell 2.94 percent, while water utility United Utilities Group (LSE: UU) was down 1.26 percent.

The biggest decline on the 100 came from investment managers Man Group (LSE: EMG), which was 4.11 percent lower.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.8 percent to 1,148.73 while the Dax added 0.54 percent to 7,062.42, the CAC-40 was 1.33 percent higher to 4,017.45 and the IBEX gained 1.81 percent to 10,829.1.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower as investors continued to worry about the possibility that China might raise interest rates again.

The Nikkei 225 was 1.56 percent lower to 10,274.5 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was down 1.76 percent to 910.85 and the Mothers market dropped 4.51 percent to 441.76.

Traders were lower on declining prices for oil and metals, brought on by worries that a move by China could cut demand for commodities.

Mitsui & Co (TYO: 8031) was down 3.3 percent, while Mitsubishi Corp (TYO: 8058) fell 4.5 percent.

Companies with ties to China were also lower, including heavy machinery manufacturers, with Hitachi Construction Machinery (TYO: 6305) dropping 2.5 percent while Komatsu (TYO: 6301) was 4.6 percent lower.

Industrial robot maker Fanuc (TYO: 6954), which makes over half of its sales in Asia, was down 4.2 percent.

NEC Corp (TYO: 6701) added 2.1 percent on a media report that the computer manufacturer might sell a majority stake in its personal computer unit to Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group (SEHK: 0992).

India’s Sensex fell 0.2 percent to 19,007.5, while the Hang Seng was down 0.53 percent to 23,876.9 in Hong Kong,.

Australia’s markets were lower, with the S&P/ASX200 down 0.59 percent to 4,755.7 and the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.64 percent to 4,860.9, while the Straits Times Index was 0.65 percent lower to 3,184.6 in Singapore, Taiwan’s Taiex fell 0l75 percent to 8,954.38 and the Kospi dropped 1.74 percent to 2,069.92 in South Korea.

The Shanghai Composite bucked the losing trend, adding 1.41 percent to 2,715.29 as China’s property developers received an upgraded recommendation from Goldman Sachs, which raised the sector from “neutral” to “overweight”.

New York markets were mixed in early afternoon trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.29 percent to 11,856.7 and the S&P 500 adding 0.25 percent to 1,283.45, while the Nasdaq Composite was 0.23 percent lower to 2,698.14.

Crude oil prices were mixed with March contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude down 35 cents to $89.24 per barrel at nearly 1 p.m. in New York, while Brent crude was recently up 87 cents to $97.45 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Metals prices were mixed in midday trade in New York as copper added 4 cents but gold and silver were both lower.

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