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Major equities markets trend lower


by Elaine Frei
February 8, 2007

Major equities markets trend lower

In Tokyo on Thursday, the Nikkei 225 closed even at 17,292.48, while the Topix index fell 0.5 percent to 1,720.18. The declines came with sell-offs in the real estate and shipping sectors. Shippers dropped 5.1 percent as a sector after Nippon Yusen cut its full-year prediction for operating profit. The telecommunications sector saw gains, as did some pharmaceutical companies.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 dropped 0.83 percent to 1,534.21 after the European Central Bank decided to leave interest rates at 3.5 percent for the time being. Banks and properties groups were lower, while carmakers declined, although truck maker MAN was up on a broker upgrade.

In London equities markets, both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were lower. The 100 dropped 0.4 percent to 6346.4, while the 250 was down 0.5 percent to 11,441.9. The pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors saw gains, but banks were lower after HSBC said that it has incurred losses due to problems in its US division. Energy companies were also down on the session. Imperial Tobacco dropped 2.7 percent after it said it will enter the US market through an acquisition.

Wall Street also saw declines. At noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 0.4 percent to 12,612.47. The Nasdaq Composite was also 0.4 percent lower, to 2,481.90, while the S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent to 1,445.26. Financial sectors were lower after two leading mortgage lenders said that more people were defaulting on home loans. Homebuilders also saw losses.

Crude oil and natural gas prices were up. Natural gas gained on new inventory figures that showed inventories were down more than had been expected last week, while crude oil prices made small gains after declines of over $1 per barrel on Wednesday. The price of gold was up, but platinum prices fell, while base metals prices were mixed.

In currencies, both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank decided to keep interest rates at their current level for the time being. UK rates stand at 5.25 percent, while Eurozone rates are at 3.5 percent. Sterling weakened on the news, and the euro declined versus the US dollar. Then yen was also weaker as it became more likely that its recent troubles would not be a major topic of discussion at the G7 meeting this weekend.



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