Whitbread adds 7.28 percent on growth

| September 6, 2011
Whitbread adds 7.28 percent on growth

Most equities markets in Europe were lower Tuesday as investors continued to worry about the debt crisis in the region.

In London, the FTSE 100 managed to gain 1.06 percent to 5,156.84 after the Institute for Supply Management said its US services index was at 53.3 in August, up from 52.7 in July, but the FTSE 250 dropped 0.13 percent to 10,071.2.

Restaurant and hotel operator Whitbread (LSE: WTB) led gains on the 100, adding 7.28 percent on growth that was accelerating, while despite the overall decline of the 250, industrial equipment rentals specialist Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT) added 18.93 percent to top gains there after it said its pretax profit more than doubled and that earnings for the full year will likely exceed forecasts.

Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS) was the worst performer on the 100 and in a mixed banking sector, dropping 2.8 percent, followed by a 2.21 percent decline for Barclays Bank (LSE: BARC), while HSBC Holdings (LSE: HSBA) added 0.93 percent for the best performance among big London banks.

Exillon Energy (LSE: EXI) was the worst performer on the 250 and in the energy sector as it dropped 7.96 percent, while SOCO International (LSE: SIA) added 4.87 percent to lead gains in the sector, which saw more shares rise than decline.

The basic resources sector, which includes miners was mostly higher, with just two decliners led by papermaker Mondi (LSE: MNDI) with a decline of 1.25 percent, while gold miner African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG) led gains in the sector as it added 5.05 percent, while fellow gold producers Fresnillo (LSE: FRES) and Randgold Resources (LSE: RRS) were both among the best performers on the 100 as they added 3.93 percent and 3.04 percent respectively.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.66 percent to 904.07 while the Dax fell 1 percent to 5,193.97, the CAC-40 was 1.13 percent lower to 2,965.64 and the IBEX dropped 1.61 percent to 7,936.4.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower again, hurt by continuing concerns about economic conditions in Europe and the United States.

The Nikkei 225 was down 2.21 percent to 8,590.57 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was 1.93 percent lower to 741.2 and the Mothers market dropped 3.18 percent to 429.64, but electric power generators saw gains after Japan’s new prime minister indicated his support for nuclear power.

Tokyo Electric Power (TYO: 9501) was up 1.3 percent, Chubu Electric Power (TYO: 9502) added 2.6 percent and Kansai Electric Power (TYO: 9503) was 3.5 percent higher.

Also related to the nuclear power industry, reactor manufacturer Toshiba Corp (TYO; 6502) d ropped 5.1 percent on a media report that it is in talks to buy a 20 percent stake in nuclear plant designer Westinghouse Electric, a company in which Toshiba already owns 77 percent.

Some banks were hurt by the rising cost of insuring against default in Europe, with Mitsubishi UFJ (TYO: 8306) down 2.7 percent, while some exporters were also down on continuing concerns about economic conditions in Europe and the United States, with Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) dropping 1.3 percent while camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) was 1.6 percent lower.

Other declines in the region came for the Shanghai Composite, which was down 0.33 percent to 2,470.52 while South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.07 percent to 1,766.71, Australia’s markets were lower as the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 1.5 percent to 4,160.7 and the S&P/ASX200 was 1.6 percent lower to 4,075.5, and the Taiex was down 2.44 percent to 7,367.19.

On the other hand, the Straits Times Index was up 0.04 percent to 2,774.33 in Singapore, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.48 percent to 19,710.5 and the Sensex gained 0.89 percent to 16,862.8 in India.

New York equities markets dropped on concerns about the economic situation in Europe, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.74 percent to 11,044.7 at 12:30 p.m. local time, while the S&P 500 had dropped 1.69 percent to 1,154.08 and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.48 percent lower to 2,443.66.

Crude oil prices were mixed at midday in New York, with West Texas Intermediate crude down $2.21 to $84.24 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude was lately up 92 cents to $111 per barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

The price of gold was down $2.40 to $1,874.50 per troy ounce at midday in New York, but only after rising to a new intraday record high at $1,923.70 per troy ounce earlier on declines in equities markets, while silver was down $1.14 to $41.93 per troy ounce.

Copper prices were down 7 cents to $4.05 per pound in New York trade at midday there, while three-month contracts were $27 lower to $8,933 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange after going as low as $8,870 per tonne earlier.

Declines in copper prices came as the US dollar strengthened and there were concerns about the strength of demand in the US and Europe, but predictions of more demand from China prevented further declines.

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