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February 14, 2006    

London markets down in early trade

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by Elaine Frei

In mid-morning trade on Tuesday, the London equities markets were down, with the FTSE 100 down by 0.1 percent to 5,787.6 after early gains. The FTSE 250 was also down 0.1 percent to 9,321.4.

The biggest losers were in the online gambling sector. PartyGaming lost 5.9 percent on the FTSE 100 to trade at 121p while 888.com dropped 5 percent to 187¾p. 888.com trades on the FTSE 250.

On the other hand, properties firms British Land and Land Securities were up after British Land said that its net asset value and its underlying profits were both up. British land advanced by 0.5 percent to £11.91½. Land Securities saw even more of a jump in its shares, gaining 1.6 percent to £17.97.

The mining sector was up as well, with Asian commodities prices firmer. Rio Tinto gained 1.7 percent to £27.79, BHP Billiton was up 1.4 percnet to 956½p, and Xstrata advanced by 1.1 percent to £16.27.

Life assurers were up as well, with Aviva and Prudential each gaining 1 percent to 758½p and 604p respectively.

Engine manufacturer Rolls Royce gained 1.6 percent to 434½p on an upgrade to “buy” from “neutral” by Merrill Lynch.

Cadbury Schweppes also benefited from an upgrade to “buy” from “hold” and a raised target price of 620p, up from 565p, by Citigroup. The confectioners gained 1.6 percent to 566½p.

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