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Aviva leads London insurers lower

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by Elaine Frei
Aviva leads London insurers lower

European equities markets were significantly lower Thursday after the European Central Bank forecast economic contraction in the Eurozone this year and perhaps next year as well, and on interest rate cuts from both the ECB and the Bank of England.

In London, the FTSE 200 was down 3.18 percent to 3,529.86 while the FTSE 250 dropped 2.44 percent to 5,935.37.

Insurer Aviva (LSE: AV), which dropped 33.37 percent, led decliners on the 100, while elsewhere in the sector Legal and General (LSE: LGEN) fell 28.88 percent and Prudential (LSE: PRU; NYSE: PUK) was down 20 percent on the session.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 3.66 percent to 670.72 while the CAC-40 fell 3.96 percent to 3,695.49, the IBEX was 4.51 percent lower to 7,025.9 and the Dax dropped 5.02 percent to 3,695.49.

Markets were mixed in the Asia-Pacific region.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 added 1.95 percent to 7,433.49 while the Topix index added 1.3 percent to 741.55 but the Mothers market of small and mid-caps was 0.57 percent lower to 291.22.

Other gainers on the session included a gain of 0.7 percent to 3,188.5 for the Sydney Ordinaries as the S&P/ASX200 added 0.73 percent to 3,148.8 in Australia, while the Shanghai Composite was up 1.04 percent to 2,221.08 and the Taiex was 2.11 percent higher to 4,637.2.

On the other hand, South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.1 percent to 1,058.18 while the Hang Seng fell 0.97 percent to 12,211.24, the Straits Times Index was 1.66 percent lower to 1,518.64 and the Sensex dropped 2.94 percent to 8,197.92.

At just past 2 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.63 percent to 6,626.38 while the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.21 percent to 1,310.26 while the S&P 500 had dropped 3.89 percent to 685.15.

Oil and grains prices were lower, but precious metals prices saw gains on the session.

The euro and the pound were both weaker after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England each cut interest rates by half a percentage point.

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News posted: March 5, 2009

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