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Friday 26th of September 2008
September 25, 2008

Old Mutual, four other insurers lead gains on 100

by Elaine Frei
Old Mutual, four other insurers lead gains on 100

Banks and insurers led European equities markets higher Thursday on the possibility of takeovers in both sectors and on the hope that an agreement on the US bailout plan will come soon.

The FTSE 100 added 1.99 percent to 5,197.02 in London, while the FTSE 250 gained 0.32 percent to 8,434.65.

All five of the biggest gainers on the 100 were in the insurance sector, led by Old Mutual (LSE: OML; JSE: OLOML) with a gain of 12.56 percent, followed by Royal & Sun Alliance (LSE: RSA) at 11.08 percent higher while Aviva (LSE: AV) added 9.92 percent, Legal & General (LSE: GEN) was up 9.8 percent and Prudential (LSE: PRU; NYSE: PUK) gained 8.46 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 2.24 percent to 1,126.25 while the Dax fell 1.99 percent to 6,173.03, the CAC-40 was 2.73 percent lower to 4,226.81 and the IBEX dropped 2.93 percent to 11,438.6.

Most equities markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.9 percent to 12,006.53 while the Topix index was 1.2 percent lower and the Mothers market dropped 0.62 percent to 435.69.

Elsewhere in the region, the Hang Seng was down 0.15 percent to 18,934.43 while in Australia the Sydney Ordinaries fell 0.59 percent to 4,960.8 and the S&P/ASX200 dropped 1.09 percent to 4,927.4.

The Sensex was down 1.06 percent to 13,547.18 in India while Taiwan’s Taiex was 1.17 percent lower to 6,060.83 and the Straits Times Index dropped 1.35 percent to 2,444.24.

Indices seeing gains included South Korea’s Kospi with a gain of 0.38 percent to 1,501.63 and the Shanghai Composite, which added 3.64 percent to 2,297.5.

At just past 12:30 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2.31 percent to 11,075.67 while the Nasdaq Composite had added 2.01 percent to 2,199.1 and the S&P 500 had gained 2.4 percent to 1,214.36.

Crude oil and most industrial metals prices were higher but precious metals prices fell and grains prices were mixed.

The pound strengthened versus the euro and the US dollar on comments from a Bank of England official that attempts to rein in inflation should drive monetary policy in the UK.

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