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Friday 04th of February 2011
February 2, 2011    

Imperial Tobacco Group adds nearly 6 percent on dividend announcement

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by Elaine Frei
Imperial Tobacco Group adds nearly 6 percent on dividend announcement

European equities markets were mixed Wednesday, with gainers benefiting from a private company’s report that the US private sector added more jobs than expected in January, while declines came on disappointment with quarterly results from some corporations.

A report from ADP (NAS: ADP) said that the US private sector added 187,000 jobs in January, more than analysts predicted, with the report coming ahead of official Labor Department numbers, due to be released on Friday and expected to be lower than the private figures.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.71 percent to 6,000.07 in London, while the FTSE 250 was 0.02 percent lower to 11,606.7.

Cigarette maker Imperial Tobacco Group (LSE: IMT), led gains on the 100, adding 5.91 percent after it announced a higher dividend after sales were up in the fourth quarter of 2010, and on an upgraded recommendation from UBS, from “neutral” to “buy”.

Three of the top five gainers on the 100 were in the mining sector, with Lonmin adding 4.06 percent while Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO) was up 3.76 percent and Eurasian Natural Resources gained 3.76 percent after it said that its output of ferroalloy, iron ores with high proportions of other elements) was up by 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

The biggest gainer among miners was Hochschild Mining (LSE: HOC), which added 5.98 percent, while the four decliners in the sector were led lower by Centamin Egypt (LSE: CEY), which dropped 5.71 percent for the worst performance on the 250, while Kenmare Resources (LSE: KNM) was 5.26 percent lower.

The energy sector was mixed, with oil and gas explorer Afren (LSE: AFR) adding 3.19 percent for the best performance in the sector, while AMEC (LSE: AMEC), which provides engineering services to the energy industry, dropped 2.8 percent to lead decliners.

Most utilities were lower, with electricity generator International Power (LSE: IPR) doing worst in the sector as it dropped 3.43 percent, while water utility Northumbrian Water Group (LSE: NWG) was up 3.89 percent and was the best of two gainers in the sector.

Pace (LSE: PIC), which makes set-top boxes for cable and satellites television systems, added 10.58 percent for the best day on the 250, while the worst performer on the 100 was automotive and aerospace engineering group GKN (LSE: GKN), which was 4.91 percent lower on negative broker comment.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.15 percent to 1,161.49 and the IBEX added 0.39 percent to 11,010.2, but the Dax was 0.01 percent lower to 7,183.67 and the CAC-40 dropped 0.15 percent to 4,066.53.

Markets that were open in the Asia-Pacific region were higher Wednesday but many, including markets in China, Taiwan and South Korea were closed in observance of Lunar New Year, with more closures to follow for the rest of the week.

The Nikkei 225 was 1.78 percent higher to 10,457.4 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 1.76 percent to 929.64 and the Mothers market gained 0.61 percent to 470.81, with gains coming on positive earnings reports and on a report that US manufacturing activity expanded last month.

Carmakers were higher, with Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) adding 0.85 percent while Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) was up 3.26 percent as new data showed that sales are up in the United States.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp (TYO: 6503) gained 7.44 percent at it reported that profits were up in the fiscal quarter ending in December.

Elsewhere in the region, India’s Sensex was up 0.38 percent to 18,090.6, while the Straits Times Index added 0.83 percent to 3,211.12 in Singapore, in a half-day session before closing down for the holiday.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX200 was 0.93 percent higher, to 4,796.5, and the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.95 percent to 4,897.9, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng added 1.81 percent to 23,909.

New York markets were mixed at just past 1 p.m. local time, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.04 percent to 12,044.4 and the Nasdaq Composite adding 0.01 percent to 2,751.58, while the S&P 500 was 0.23 percent lower to 1,304.61.

Crude oil prices were down slightly after recent gains, with March contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude down 37 cents to $90.40 per barrel, while at last report Brent crude was 13 cents lower to $101.61 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

The declines for oil came as the US Energy Information Administration reported that US stockpiles added 2.6 million barrels last week to 343.2 million barrels, slightly less of a gain than expected but 4.3 percent above the same week last year.

Gasoline stockpiles were also higher, but distillates in storage declined.

Metals prices were also lower in New York, with gold down $10 per troy ounce shortly before 1 p.m. local time.

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