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Tuesday 16th of February 2010
February 12, 2010    

Utilities gain in London as markets decline

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by Elaine Frei
Utilities gain in London as markets decline

European equities markets were lower Friday as several issues concerned investors, including a move by China to again raise bank reserve requirements there in an effort to cut lending and slow the nation’s economy.

Other worries included continuing concerns about the Greek economy after fourth quarter data showed that it shrank more than expected, while new numbers showed that the Eurozone gross domestic product was nearly flat as Germany’s economy did not grow and Italy’s economy shrank.

Additionally, US consumer confidence was down in February although January retail sales were higher there.

The FTSE 100 was 0.37 percent lower to 5,142.45 in London, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.82 percent to 9,052.97.

Most utilities saw gains as National Grid (LSE: NG) added 2.56 percent to lead the 100, while United Utilities Group (LSE: UU) was up 1.7 percent and International Power (LSE: IPR) gained 1.42 percent.

Drax Group (LSE: DRX) was the only decliner among utilities as it fell 0.61 percent.

Most miners were lower on concerns that new bank rules in China could hurt demand for metals, but iron-ore miner Ferrexpo (LSE: FXPO) turned in the best performance of the session in London as it added 9.42 percent on the 250.

The only other gainers among miners were Eurasian Natural Resources (LSE: ENRC), with a gain of 0.27 percent, and Gem Diamonds (LSE: GEMD), which added 1.09 percent, while the biggest drop in the sector came from Vedanta Resources (LSE: VED) with a decline of 2.52 percent.

The worst performance of the session in London came from IT group Pace (LSE: PIC) as the satellite and cable television technology specialist dropped 6.01 percent on the 250, while the biggest decline on the 100 came from British Airways (LSE: BAY), which was down 4.12 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.27 percent to 987.86 while the Dax fell 0.06 percent to 5,500.39, the CAC-40 was 0.49 percent lower to 3,599.07 and the IBEX dropped 0.55 percent to 10,224.9.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on the session.

The Nikkei 225 was 1.29 percent higher to 10,092.19 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.98 percent to 892.16 and the Mothers market gained 0.89 percent to 392.63.

The consumer finance sector, however, was down significantly on worries that a new law limiting consumer borrowing to one-third of the borrower’s yearly income, due to go into effect in June,, will cut demand.

Aiful (TYO: 8515) was down 6.6 percent while Promise Co (TYO: 8574) dropped 7 percent.

Yesterday’s gains in commodities prices helped traders as Mitsubishi Corp. (TYO: 8058) added 3.3 percent and Mitsui & Co (TYO: 8031) gained 6.5 percent.

Australia’s markets were also higher as the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.17 percent to 4,562.1 and the Sydney Ordinaries added 0.28 percent to 4,588.8.

Other gainers in the region included the Straits Times Index, which gained 0.19 percent to 2,758.9 while at the same time the Shanghai Composite was 1.09 percent higher to 3,018.13.

The Hang Seng was down 0.11 percent to 20,268.69 in Hong Kong, while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.26 percent to 1,593.66.

Both India’s Sensex and Taiwan’s Taiex were closed.

New York markets were lower in early afternoon trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.6 percent to 10,082.82 while at the same time the S&P 500 had fallen 0.45 percent to 1,073.67 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.03 percent lower to 2,176.78.

Prices for crude oil and metals were lower in early afternoon trade in New York.

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