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April 29, 2009    

Royal Bank of Scotland leads banks, FTSE 100

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by Elaine Frei
Royal Bank of Scotland leads banks, FTSE 100

Equities markets in Europe were higher Wednesday as banks gained on a better-than-expected quarterly report from a Spanish bank.

The FTSE 100 added 2.27 percent to 4,189.59 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 2.68 percent to 7,346.69.

Banks led winners on the 100 as Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS; NYSE: RBS PRM) led the index with a gain of 12.54 percent, while Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN; SEHK: 2888) was 7.48 percent higher, Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) added 8.26 percent, Barclays Bank (LSE: BARC; NYSE: BCS; TYO: 8642) was up 10.44 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.96 percent to 816.93 while the Dax added 2.11 percent to 4,704.56, the CAC-40 was 2.16 percent higher to 3,116.94 and the IBEX gained 2.71 percent to 8,891.3.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher as Tokyo exchanges were closed in observance of a holiday.

The Taiex was up 0.31 percent to 5,614.06 while the Straits Times Index added 2.28 percent to 1,849.57, the Hang Seng was 2.76 percent higher to 14,956.95, the Shanghai Composite gained 2.78 percent to 2.468.19, the Kospi was up 2.94 percent to 1,338.42 and the Sensex added 3.65 percent to 11,403.25.

In Australia, on the other hand, the Sydney Ordinaries fell 0.27 percent to 3,661.9 and the S&P/ASX200 dropped 0.35 percent to 3,695.3.

News from the Commerce Department that the US gross domestic product was 6.1 percent lower in the first quarter of the year, more of a decline than expected but better than results from the last quarter of 2008, did not stop New York markets from seeing gains in early afternoon trade.

At just past 1 p.m. in New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.97 percent to 8,174.65 while the Nasdaq Composite was 2.35 percent higher to 1,713.14 and the S&P 500 had added 2.11 percent to 873.24.

Commodities prices, including crude oil, precious and base metals and grains were all higher on the session.

The US dollar and the Japanese yen both weakened during the day while the pound and the Mexican peso were both higher.

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