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Saturday 22nd of November 2008
March 15, 2007

Most equities markets gain on session; oil lower

by Elaine Frei

Most equities markets gain on session; oil lower

Most equities markets had a much better day on Thursday than they did Wednesday, as declines were replaced by gains.

Asia had its share of advances. In India, the Sensex added 0.11 percent to 12,543.82. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was 0.7 percent higher to 18,969.44, while the Straits Times index in Singapore gained 1.35 percent to 3,094.6 and the Shanghai Composite was up 1.6 percent to 2,951.7. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 and the Topix index had matching 1.1 percent gains, to 16,860.39 and 1,694.18 respectively. Electricity generators in Tokyo saw gains, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (TYO: 7011) saw its shares rise 9.2 percent on the news that it has won a contract to build two nuclear reactors for US power plant operator TXU. Among domestic sectors, department stores were mixed on mergers activity.

European markets were higher, as well. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 1.83 percent on the session to 1,453.57, for its biggest one-day gain since February 27. The CAC 40 gained 1.8 percent to 5,389.85, while in Frankfurt the Xetra Dax was 2.1 percent higher to 6,585.47. Bucking the trend was the RTS in Moscow, which dropped 0.44 percent to 1,809.16. Miners, carmakers, and the tobacco sector all saw gains in Europe during the session.

London saw gains, with the FTSE 100 adding 2.21 percent to 6,133.2 and the FTSE 250 gaining 2.52 percent to 11,219.5. In London, the tobacco sector was in focus after Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT) said it has approached Spanish tobacco group Altadis (IBEX-35: ALT). The UK tobacco sector saw gains on the news, while miners were also higher on the session.

By early afternoon in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 0.32 percent to 12,172.34, while the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.24 percent to 2,377.37 and the S&P 500 had gained 0.5 percent to 1,394.14. The Russell 2000 index of small and mid-cap stocks was 0.74 percent higher to 781.42. Commodities exchanges were mixed on the news that the Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) had made an unsolicited offer for the Chicago Board of Trade (NYSE: BOT), which is in process of merging with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (NYSE: CME).

Crude oil prices were slightly lower at mid-afternoon in New York, after OPEC decided to retain current production levels, even though the cartel said that it plans to make more of an effort to enforce the 700,000 barrels per day portion of production cuts that have not yet been implemented by member nations. Brent crude April contracts, which expire at the end of the day’s session, dropped 38 cents to $60.68 per barrel on the Intercontinental Exchange in London, while West Texas Intermediate Crude for April delivery fell 9 cents to $58.07 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, in morning trade, base metals prices were higher as analysts anticipated a surge above $50,000 per tonne for the price of nickel.

The Icelandic krona was lower against the euro and the US dollar on currency markets after Fitch downgraded Iceland’s foreign currency debt, saying that the economy there was not up to higher global interest rates or a long period of risk aversion. Elsewhere, the yen weakened while the greenback was little moved against either the euro or sterling.

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