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Saturday 20th of February 2010
February 18, 2010    

Auto parts retailer Halford’s Group leads gains in London

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by Elaine Frei
Auto parts retailer Halford's Group leads gains in London

Equities markets in Europe were higher Thursday, led by a nearly 1 percent gain for the FTSE 100 in London.

The 100 added 0.92 percent to 5,325.04 while the FTSE 250 was 0.59 percent higher to 9,385.27.

Auto parts retailer Halford’s Group (LSE: HFD) was the biggest gainer in London as it added 12.05 percent on the 250, while aerospace and defense group BAE Systems (LSE: BA) was the best performer on the 100 as it added 4.3 percent.

Most miners were higher, led by Eurasian Natural Resources (LSE: ENRC) with a gain of 3.08 percent, while the only decliner in the sector was Hochschild Mining (LSE: HOC), which was down 0.43 percent.

Utilities were mostly lower, led by Northumbrian Water Group (LSE: NWG), which fell 4.2 percent on the 250 for the worst performance of the day in London.

The media sector also had a rough day of it, led by a decline of 2.18 percent by newspaper and magazine publisher Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI), while publisher Reed Elsevier (LSE: REL) dropped 1.48 percent as the worst performer of the session on the 100 and Pearson (LSE: PSON) fell 1.19 percent.

The best performance in the media sector came from directories publisher Yell Group (LSE: YELL), which added 3.21 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.62 percent to 1,021.38 while the Dax added 0.57 percent to 5,680.41, the CAC-40 was 0.61 percent higher to 3,747.83 and the IBEX gained 0.72 percent to 10,574.2.

Tokyo’s markets were higher on the session but trade was light as China and Taiwan remained closed for Lunar New Year celebrations, and other Asia-Pacific region markets saw declines.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.28 percent to 10,335.69 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was up just 0.01 percent to 904.73 and the Mothers market gained 0.76 percent to 395.75.

Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) was down 0.6 percent on the news that the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into another possible problem with one of its cars, this time a possible steering problem for the Corolla.

Computer memory makers were up after US computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ) issued a better-than-expected quarterly report and upped its full-year prediction.

DRAM maker Elpida Memory (TYO: 6665) added 1.8 percent while chipmaker NEC Electronics (TYO: 6723) gained 5.6 percent.

Elsewhere in the region, Australia’s markets were lower as the Sydney Ordinaries and the S&P/ASX200 each dropped 0.28 percent, to 4,673.88 and 4,654.76 respectively, while the Kospi was down 0.38 percent in South Korea, the Hang Seng fell 0.54 percent, the Sensex was 0.62 percent lower to 16,327.84 and the Straits Times Index dropped 0.89 percent to 2,769.19.

New York markets were up slightly in midday trade, helped by a new report showing that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region in up this month, but gains were held back by new numbers from the Labor Department which showed that first-time unemployment claims in the United States were up by 31,000 last week against an expected decline.

Additionally, Wal-Mart’s (NYSE: WMT) report that sales were down last quarter hurt the retail sector.

At just before 1 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.15 percent to 10,324.36 while at the same time the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were each 0.04 percent higher,, to 1,099.98 and 2,227.14 respectively.

Crude oil prices were up in midday trade in New York, but gold and silver were both lower.

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