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Sunday 06th of March 2011
March 4, 2011    

Serco Group sees gains on raised broker recommendation

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by Elaine Frei
Serco Group sees gains on raised broker recommendation

European equities markets were lower as oil prices rose again, and on new data showing that workers’ hourly pay in the United States did not increase in February, raising fears that consumers’ income might not keep up with gains in energy prices.

This bad news outweighed new data from the US Labor Department that the US economy added 192,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate there dropped to 8.9 percent, its lowest in nearly two years.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.24 percdent to 5,990.39 in London, but the FTSE 250 managed a gain of 0.61 percent to 11,723.

Government services provider Serco Group (LSE: SRP) added 4.56 percent to lead gains on the 100 after Bank of America raised its recommendation on the operator of Docklands Light Railway in London from “neutral” to “buy”.

Broker upgrades also helped engineering group Bodycote (LSE: BOY), as it added 5.11 percent after Royal Bank of Scotland Group upgraded it from “hold” to “buy”.

IT services group Computacenter (LSE: CCC) led gains on the 250, adding 5.31 percent.

The telecommunications sector was mixed, as Cable & Wireless Communications (LSE: CWC) led gains in the sector as it added 2.84 percent, while Talk Talk Telecom Group (LSE: TALK) led both the sector and the 250 lower, falling 3.51 percent, while COLT Group (LSE: COLT) dropped 2.21 percent.

Miners were mixed as well, as Centamin Egypt (LSE: CEY) added 4.05 percent to lead gains in the sector but African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG), dropped 1.99 percent for the worst performance in the sector.

Energy shares were mostly higher, led by Petrofac (LSE: PFC) with a gain of 3.24 percent, while the five decliners in the sector were headed by Exillon Energy (SLE: EXI), which was 1.24 percent lower.

The insurance sector was higher, with St James’s Place (LSE: STJ) leading the way as it added 3.85 percent, followed by Resolution Ltd (LSE: RSL), which was up 3.16 percent while Standard Life (LSE: SL) gained 2.86 percent.

The travel and leisure sector was mixed, with Sportingbet (LSE: SBT) up 2.09 percent for the best performance in the sector, while International Consolidated Airlines Group (LSE: IAG) dropped the most, falling 2.91 percent, followed by cruise line operator Carnival (LSE: CCL), which was down 2.74 percent.

Automotive and aerospace engineering group GKN (LSE: GKN) led declines on the 100 with a drop of 2.98 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.7 percent to 1,147.09 while the Dax and the IBEX each fell 0.65 percent, to 7,178.9 and 10,498.7 respectively, and the CAC-40 dropped 1 percent to 4,020.21.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mostly higher as good economic news counted for more than concerns about ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa as new data showed the US services sector expanding more than expected last month, while the US Labor Department said yesterday that first time unemployment claims dropped by 20,000 last week.

The Nikkei 225 added 1.02 percent to 10,693.7 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was up 0.73 percent to 955.59 and the Mothers market gained 1.36 percent to 525.01.

Sumitomo Electric Industries (TYO: 5802) added 8.1 percent on the Topix, on reports that it plans to develop sodium-ion batteries, which are much less expensive than the batteries now commonly in use, for use in homes and vehicles.

Most carmakers were higher as Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) added 1.2 percent, Isuzu Motors (TYO: 7202) was up 1.38 percent and Mazda Motor (TYO: 7261) gained 3.5 percent, but Honda motor (TYO; 7267) dropped 0.14 percent.

Camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) was up 1.8 percent, while Konica Minolta Holdings (TYO: 4902) gained 4.2 percent.

The Taiex added 0.53 percent to 8,784.4 in Taiwan, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index was up 0.79 percent to 3,061.31.

In Australia, the Sydney Ordinaries gained 1.14 percent to 4,958.6 and the S&P/ASX200 was 1.2 percent higher to 4,864.3, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.24 percent to 23,408.9, the Shanghai Composite added 1.35 percent to 2,942.31 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.73 percent to 2,004.68.

The Sensex dropped 0.02 percent to 18,486.4 in India.

New York equities markets dropped as crude oil prices soared again, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.2 percent to 12,110.6 while the S&P 500 dropped 1.15 percent to 1,315.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.88 percent lower to 2,774.19.

Crude oil prices were significantly higher on reports that the US was putting military assets near Libya in case conditions there get worse, with April contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude up $2.17 to $104.08 per barrel, while Brent crude was lately reported up $1.58 to $116.37 per barrel.

Precious metals prices were also up, with gold adding $13.30 to $1,429.70 per troy ounce in New York trade, while silver was 93 cents higher to $35.26 per troy ounce.

On the other hand, copper prices dropped slightly.

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