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July 28, 2010    

Brit Insurance Holdings adds 10 percent in London

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by Elaine Frei
Brit Insurance Holdings adds 10 percent in London

European equities markets were mostly lower Wednesday, led by declines in London as corporate quarterly results were disappointing and after the US Commerce Department said that durable goods orders fell 1 percent in June against an expected rise of 1 percent.

The FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250 each dropped 0.86 percent, to 5,319.68 and 10,019.7 respectively.

Brit Insurance Holdings (LSE: BRE) provided the best performance of the day, adding 9.8 percent on the 250 after it gave permission to private equity firm Apollo Global Management permission to look at its books after an offer from Apollo.

Over on the 100, British Sky Broadcasting Group (LSE: BSY) added 1.34 percent to lead gains there, while elsewhere in the media sector magazine publisher Euromoney Institutional Investor (LSE: ERM) added 1.88 percent on the 250 for the best performance in the sector but directories publisher Yell Group (LSE: YELL) dropped 18.35 percent for the worst day on the 250 and in London generally after it reported that its second quarter income dropped from the same period last year.

Scottish & Southern Energy (LSE: SSE) was the worst performer on the 100 and in its sector, dropping 5.25 percent.

Other big decliners included chipmaker CSR (LSE: CSR), which fell 14.28 percent after it forecast lower sales for the second half of the year.

Invensys (LSE: ISYS) was down 4.78 percent after the engineering group reported a £13 million charge to its rail unit, while beverage can maker Rexam (LSE: REX) was down 3.73 percent on its report that sales fell by 1 percent in the first half.

The mining sector was mixed, with Aquarius Platinum (LSE: AQP) leading gains as it added 2.34 percent while iron ore miner Ferrexpo (LSE: FXPO) was down 2.63 percent for the worst performance in the sector.

Meanwhile, over in the energy sector, oil explorer EnQuest (LSE: ENQ) led gains as it advanced by 8.18 percent, followed by oil construction and engineering group Lamprell (LSE: LAM) as it added 7.31 percent, while explorer Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) was up 6.91 percent.

Asian markets were higher on positive earnings reports.

The Nikkei 225 added 2.7 percent to 9,753.27 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was up 2.29 percent to 865.51 and the Mothers market gained 1.5 percent to 404.1 as the yen weakened, helping exporters to gains.

Camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) added 5.7 percent after it said profits quadrupled in the second quarter from the same period in 2009 and on an upgrade from “neutral” to “overweight” from JPMorgan Chase, while camera maker Olympus Corp (TYO: 7733) gained 3.1 percent.

Consumer electronics giant Sony (TYO: 6758) was up 2.7 percent ahead of its quarterly report, due Thursday while Advantest (TYO: 6857) which makes testing equipment for the semiconductors industry added 5.7 percent.

Among carmakers Honda Motor (TYO: 7267), which gains 80 percent of its sales outside Japan, gained 2.2 percent, while Nissan Motor (TYO: 7201) was 3.6 percent higher.

Fuji Heavy Industries (TYO: 7270) gained 6.8 percent after reporting that production was up 70 percent in June from June 2009.

The Straits Times Index was up 0.2 percent to 2,985.38 in Shanghai while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.29 percent to 1,773.47, the Taiex was 0.47 percent higher to 7,784.81 in Taiwan and the Hang Seng gained 0.56 percent to 21,091.18 in Hong Kong.

The Sydney Ordinaries added 0.62 percent to 4,542.1 in Australia, while the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.72 percent to 4,529.9.

The Shanghai Composite gained 2.26 percent to 2,633.66.

On the other hand, India’s Sensex was 0.67 percent lower to 17,957.37.

New York markets were down in midday trade on the dip in orders for durable goods, which are goods expected to last three years or longer.

Even when the transportation sector was excluded, orders were still down 0.6 percent in June.

At just past 12:30 p.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.15 percent to 10,521.99 while at the same time the S&P 500 had dropped 0.35 percent to 1,109.97 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.58 percent lower to 2,274.98.

Crude oil prices were lower after the US Energy Information Administration said it its weekly stockpiles report that crude inventories were up by 7.3 million barrels last week, against an expected decline of 2.3 million barrels.

Among metals, meanwhile, gold and copper prices were higher but silver declined.

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