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Sunday 06th of March 2011
March 3, 2011    

Engineers IMI gain 6.5 percent to lead gains on FTSE 100

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by Elaine Frei
Engineers IMI gain 6.5 percent to lead gains on FTSE 100

European equities markets were higher as positive corporate results outweighed hints from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet that the ECB could raise interest rates next month.

Rates were held at 1 percent again this month, where they have been for nearly two years.

The FTSE 100 was up 1.52 percent to 6,005.09 in London,, while the FTSE 250 added 0.94 percent to 11,652.4, helped by corporate earnings reports that were generally good.

Engineering group IMI (LSE: IMI) topped gains on the 100, adding 6.55 percent on higher sales for the full year, while the best performance on the 250 came from online gambler PartyGaming (LSE: PRTY), which was 9.14 percent higher to lead gains in a mostly higher travel and leisure sector.

Still in the travel and leisure sector, TUI Travel (LSE: TT) also saw gains, adding 4.63 percent and hotels and restaurants operator Whitbread (LSE: WTB) was up 3.89 percent after HSBC Holdings raised its recommendation on the hospitality group from “neutral“ to “overweigh”, while brewer and pubs operator Marston’s (LSE: MARS) dropped 3.35 percent for the worst performance among five decliners in the sector.

The energy sector was mixed, with AMEC (LSE: AMEC), which provides engineering services to the energy industry leading gains as it added 5.4 percent, while the worst performer in the sector was Hansen Transmissions International (LSE: HSN), as the wind turbine gearbox manufacturer dropped 7.51 percent and led decliners on the 250.

Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) added 3.9 percent as it announced a major oil discovery off the coast of Ghana.

Software group Autonomy Corporation (LSE: AU) was down 1.02 percent for the worst performance on the 100.

Miners were higher, led by Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ) with a gain of 3.48 percent on the announcement that it will sell new shares in an eaffort to raise $250 million.

There were only two decliners among miners as African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG) was down 0.77 percent and Randgold Resources (LSE: RRS) dropped 0.64 percent.

The retail sector was mixed, with automobile retailer Inchcape (LSE: INCH) up 5.22 percent to lead gainers, while DIY retailer Home Retail Group (LSE: HOME) dropped 3.52 percent for the sector’s worst performance on the session.

British Sky Broadcasting Group (LSE: BSY) was up 3 percent on the Culture Secretary’s approval of News Corp’s (NAS: NWS) effort to purchase the shares of BSkyB that it doesn’t already own, while others in the media sector saw declines.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.13 percent to 1,155.28 while the Dax added 0.62 percent to 7,225.96 and the CAC-40 gained 0.66 percent to 4,060.76, but the IBEX dropped 0.72 percent to 10,566.9.

With the exception of the Shanghai Composite, which was 0.37 percent lower to 2,902.98, markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on the session.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.89 percent to 10,586 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was up 0.62 percent to 948.69 and the Mothers market gained 1.69 percent to 517.95.

Shares in companies related to the semiconductors sector were higher after JPMorgan issued an upgrade of the sector, with Advantest (TYO: 6857) adding 1.5 percent while Elpida Memory (TYO: 6665) was up 2.3 percent and Oki Electric Industry Co (TYO: 6703) gained 2.9 percent.

Softbank (TYO: 9984) was 4.8 percent higher after Mizuho Securities repeated its “outperform” rating on the telecommunications group, saying that the wireless carrier probably will not increase its stake in Yahoo Japan (TYO: 4689).

Elsewhere in the telecommunications sector, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (TYO: 9432) added 1.5 percent after JPMorgan repeated its “overweight” rating on expectations of higher profits for the largest telecommunications company in Asia.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (TYO: 7011) was up 5.4 percent on a big new contract, while machine tools maker Okuma Corp (TYO: 6103) gained 6.3 percent after Nomura issued a “buy” recommendation.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.07 percent to 4,806.4 and the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.09 percent to 4,902.8, while India’s Sensex was 0.23 percent higher to 18,489.8, the Hang Seng gained 0.32 percent to 23,122.4 and the Straits Times Index was up 0.33 percent to 3,037.35 in Singapore.

Taiwan’s Taiex added 1.37 percent to 8,738.37, while the Kospi gained 3.3 percent to 1,970.66 in South Korea after factory output there added 13.7 percent in January over the same month last year.

New York markets were higher after the US Labor Department said that first-time jobless claims dropped by 20,000 to a two and a half year low of 368,000 last week, and after some retailers reported more gains in sales than expected in February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.5 percent to 12,247.3 at just past 1 p.m. in New York, while at the same time the S&P 500 had added 1.56 percent to 1,328.89 and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.87 percent to 2,799.4.

Crude oil prices were lower after a reported plan for a negotiated peace in Libya brokered by the Arab League raised hopes that calm could be restored in Libya, although most analysts doubted that anti-government protestors would agree to the plan to negotiate with Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi.

April contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude were down $1,96 in midday trade, but were still trading just above $100 per barrel, while Brent crude was lately reported down $2.34 per gallon but was still around $114 per barrel.

Metals prices were also down in New York, with gold $22 lower to $1,415.70 per troy ounce.

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