Transport company FirstGroup leads gains in travel and leisure sector

| January 24, 2011
Transport company FirstGroup leads gains in travel and leisure sector

European equities markets were mostly higher Monday as hopes that US data scheduled for release later in the week will show that the economy there is recovering outweighed a purchasing managers’ report from Germany that declined, showing that manufacturing growth has slowed down this month, instead of expanding as expected.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.81 percent to 5,943.85 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 0.35 percent to 11,573.4.

The travel and leisure sector was mostly higher, led by transport groups as FirstGroup (LSE: FGP) turned in the best performance in the sector, adding 3.25 percent, followed by a 3.22 percent gain for National Express Group (LSE: NEX), while hotels and restaurants operator Whitbread (LSE: WTB) gained 3.08 percent.

Online gamblers, however were lower as Sportingbet (LSE: SBT), down 4.91 percent, led declines in travel and leisure while PartyGaming (LSE: PRTY) dropped 3.66 percent.

The best performance on the 100 came from British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS), which was up 3.96 percent, while internet grocery retailer Ocado Group (LSE: OCDO) had the best day on the 250 as it added 5.29 percent.

The retail sector was mixed, and while Ocado Group was the best performer there, consumer electronics retailer Kesa Electricals (LSE: KESA) dropped 3.16 percent for the worst day in retail.

The energy sector was mixed with gains led by oil and gas explorer Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR), which was 3.44 percent higher, while oil and gas engineering and support services company John Wood Group (LSE: WG) dropped 2.12 percent for the worst day in the sector.

Banks were lower in London, with Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) dropping 3.44 percent to lead declines on the 100 and in the sector, followed by a 1.91 percent decline for Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LSE: RBS), although HSBC Holdings (LSE: HSBA) managed a gain of 0.2 percent.

Over on the 250, the worst performer of the session was banknote printer De La Rue (LSE: DLAR), which was down 15.19 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.26 percent to 1,151.29 while the Dax added 0.08 percent to 7,067.77 and the CAC-40 gained 0.39 percent to 4,033.21, but the IBEX dropped 0.13 percent to 10,815.4.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.69 percent to 10,345.1 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was up 0.69 to 917.18 and the Mothers Market added 1.86 percent to 449.98 on hopes that earnings will improve.

Carmakers were higher as Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) and Fuji Heavy Industries (TYO: 7270), which makes Subaru automobiles, each added 1.3 percent on the session, with Fuji’s gains coming on media reports that operating profits for the full year ending 31 March could exceed the company’s predictions, while Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) was 3.8 percent higher after Nomura Holdings boosted its recommendation on the carmaker from “neutral” to “buy”.

In the semiconductors sector, Elpida Memory (TYO: 6665) gained 5.1 percent .

Other gainers in the region included the Straits Times Index, which was up 0.04 percent to 3,185.76 in Singapore, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.59 percent to 2,082.16 and the Sensex was up 0.76 percent to 19,151.3 in India.

Australia’s markets were also higher as the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.56 percent to 4,888.1 and the S&P/ASX200 added 0.64 percent to 4,786.

On the other hand, Taiwan’s Taiex was down 0.07 percent to 8,947.79 while the Hang Seng was 0.31 percent lower to 23,801.8 and the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.72 percent to 2,695.72..

The declines for markets in Hong Kong and China came on media reports that the Chinese government could raise reserve requirements for banks there again, in a further attempt to tighten monetary policy and bring inflation under control.

New York markets were higher just before 1 p.m. local time, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.69 percent to 11,953.7, while at the same time the S&P 500 had added 0.47 percent to 1,289.35 and the Nasdaq Composite had added 0.92 percent to 2,714.37.

Crude oil prices fell in midday trade in New York, with declines coming on comments from a Saudi Arabian oil official, who said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could raise production this year, and ahead of several US economic reports due later in the week.

March contracts for West Texas Intermediate Crude were down $1.37 to $87.74 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at shortly before 1 p.m., while at last report Brent crude was 48 cents lower to $97.12 per barrel.

Metals prices were mixed, with gold and copper both gaining ground while silver prices were lower.

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