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Thursday 03rd of March 2011
March 24, 2010    

Wellstream Holdings adds most in London

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by Elaine Frei
Wellstream Holdings adds most in London

European equities markets were mixed Wednesday after Fitch Ratings downgraded Portugal’s credit rating from AA to AA-.

There were gains in London, as the FTSE 100 added 0.07 percent to 5,677.88 and the FTSE 250 gained 0.73 percent to 10,102.82.

The energy sector was mostly higher as pipeline systems group Wellstream Holdings (LSE: WSM) was up 6.9 percent to lead not only its sector and the 250, but turned in the best performance of the session in London and Petrofac Ltd (LSE: PFC) added 2.2 percent to lead gains on the 100, but Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS) dropped 5 percent for the worst day in the sector.

Residential property developer Bellway (LSE: BWY) added 5.63 percent after it reported profits in the first half of its fiscal year, but Unite Group, which develops and manages student accommodations, dropped 3.42 percent.

Drug maker Shire (LSE: SHP) added 2.1 percent as it was helped by manufacturing problems for a US rival.

Investment managers Gartmore Group (LSE: GRT) dropped 8.54 percent and was the worst performer in London, while insurer Aviva (LSE: AV) fell 4.41 percent for the worst day on the 100 as it traded ex-dividend.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher, but the Kospi dropped 0.05 percent to 1,681.01 in South Korea and the Straits Times Index fell 0.66 percent to 2,886.36 in Singapore.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.38 percent to 10,815.03 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.49 percent to 951.97 and the Mothers market was up fractionally to 451.92.

Nintendo (TYO: 7974) added 8.69 percent on plans to launch a new hand-held three-dimensional gaming console that will be able to play existing games.

Sony (TYO: 6758), which makes the competing PSP hand-held game console, dropped 2.74 percent on the news from Nintendo.

Shippers were mixed, with Mitsui OSK Lines (TYO: 9104) up 2.26 percent but Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (TYO: 9107) dropped 0.57 percent after Goldman Sachs issued positive comment on the sector generally but downgraded Kawasaki KK to “neutral”.

The Hang Seng was 0.1 percent higher to 7,822.71 while the Shanghai Composite added 0.12 percent to 3,056.81 and the Taiex was up 0.14 percent to 7,822.71.

In Australia the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.31 percent to 4,903.2 and the S&P/ASX200 added 0.34 percent to 4,891.5.

India’s markets were closed in observance of a public holiday.

New York markets were lower in early afternoon trade as investors worried about the downgrade to Portugal’s credit rating which, coupled with Greece’s ongoing debt issues, have called into question the health of the global economic recovery.

Additionally, the Commerce Department reported that new home sales in the US were down by 2.2 percent in February to the lowest level since records began in 1963, against an expected increase.

The declines in sales, which were most serious in the Northeast, where the drop was 20 percent, and in the Midwest with an 18 percent decline in sales, were blamed at least partly on bad weather in the region.

On the other hand, new home sales were up 21 percent in the West in February.

At just before 1:30 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.48 percent to 10,836.08 while the S&P 500 was down 0.58 percent to 1,167.34 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.66 percent lower to 2,399.37.

Prices for crude oil were lower after crude stockpiles rose much more than expected last week, while metals prices had also dropped.

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