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Wednesday 05th of May 2010
April 29, 2010    

InterContinental Hotels leads gainers in London

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by Elaine Frei
InterContinental Hotels leads gainers in London

European equities markets were higher Thursday after several days of declines as earnings news helped investors forget the debt crisis.

The FTSE 100 added 0.56 percent to 5,617.84 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.91 percent to 10,392.96.

The travel and leisure sector was mixed, with hotels operators at both ends of the spectrum as InterContinental Hotels (LSE: IHG) led the 100 and was the biggest gainer in London with a gain of 6.07 percent, while hotels and restaurants operator Whitbread (LSE: WTB) did worst in the sector, dropping 2.4 percent.

British Sky Broadcasting (LSE: BSY) added 4.87 percent after it said its operating profit was up in its fiscal third quarter as it gained more subscribers.

Consumer products giant Unilever (LSE: ULVR) also cheered investors, adding 3.34 percent on its report that profits were up 33 percent in the first quarter on sales that were up 6.7 percent.

Food processor Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE) turned in the best performance on the 250, adding 5.46 percenet on the session.

Energy giant BP (LSE: BP) was the biggest decliner on the 100, dropping 6.53 percent on the news that one of its oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico is leaking more than first suspected, losing up to 5,000 barrels of oil per day, but oil and gas pipeline maker Wellstream Holdings (LSAE: WSM) did even worse, dropping 7.74 percent on the 250.

Entertainment retailer HMV Group (LSE: HMV) was the biggest decliner in London, falling 8.6 percent.

London-listed banks were up, led by Barclays Bank (LSE: BARC), which added 2.63 percent.

Banks elsewhere in Europe did even better, especially in Greece, where National Bank of Greece SA (Athex: ETE), the nation’s biggest bank, added 18 percent on hopes that aid talks will soon result in help for Greece’s debt crisis, while EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA (Athex: EUROB) was up 14 percent and Alpha Bank SA (Athex: ALPHA) gained 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Banco Santander (BMAD: SAN), Spain’s biggest bank, was up 3.7 percent on its report that profits were up 5.7 percent in the first quarter, a better result than analysts had anticipated.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.25 percent to 1,070.05, while the Dax added 1 percent to 6,144.91, the CAC-40 was 1.42 percent higher to 3,840.62 and the IBEX gained 2.69 percent to 10,441.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower again Thursday on continuing concerns that the debt crisis in Europe could get worse, but India’s Sensex was up 0.71 percent on the session to 17,503.47 and the Straits Times Index added 0.92 percent to 2,959.01 in Singapore.

The Kopsi was 0.32 percent lower to 1,728.42 in South Korea, while Taiwan’s Taiex fell 0.34 percent to 8,054.05.

Banks helped push Australia’s markets lower, with the S&P/ASX200 down 0.77 percent to 4,785.6 while the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 0.78 percent to 4,816.1.

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) was down 0.5 percent, National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) fell 1.4 percent, and ANZ Banking (ASX: ANZ) dropped 2.6 percent even though its profit were up by 36 percent in its fiscal first half, as it was in early talks to buy a 51 percent share of Korea Exchange Bank (KRX: 004940) from US-based private equity firm Lone Star Fund.

The Hang Seng was down 0.81 percent to 20,778.92, while the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.1 percent to 2,868.43.

China Merchants Bank (SEHK: 3968; SSE: 600036) managed a 1.5 percent gain after it reported that its net income in the first quarter grew by 40 percent.

Tokyo’s markets were closed in observance of Showa Day at the beginning of the Golden Week period there.

New York markets were higher in midday trade after the Labor Department reported that first-time unemployment claims fell by 11,000 last week to 448,000, although the initial claims did not fall quite as much as analysts had expected.

Earnings reports also helped markets to gains, as did mergers and acquisitions news as IT corporation Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) said that it will buy smartphone manufacturer Palm Inc (NAS: PALM) in an all-cash deal worth more than $1 billion.

At just before 1 p.m. in New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.32 percent to 11,190.6 while the S&P 500 had added 1.38 percent to 1,207.82 and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.38 percent higher to 2,506.25.

Crude oil prices were up in midday trade while metals prices were mixed with silver higher but gold and copper seeing declines.

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