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August 13, 2010    

Insurer Aviva leads gains in sector, on FTSE 100

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by Elaine Frei
Insurer Aviva leads gains in sector, on FTSE 100

European equities markets were mixed Friday on mixed data from Europe and the United States.

The good news was that Germany’s economy grew in the second quarter, US consumer sentiment was up and retail sales in the US gained 0.4 percent in July, but the bad news was that those sales didn’t manage to match analysts’ expectations and at least two big retailers, JC Penney (NYSE: JCP) and Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) cut their earnings outlooks for the full year.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.18 percent to 5,275.44 in London while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.06 percent to 9,782.31.

Insurers were mixed in London markets, but three of the top five gainers on the 100 were from the sector, led by Aviva (LSE: AV), which added 5.47 percent to lead the index and all gains in London, while Legal & General Group (LSE: LGEN) was up 3.24 percent and Standard Life (LSE: SLET) gained 3.04 percent.

Vedanta Resources (LSE: VED) led declines on the 100, in the mining sector and in London generally, dropping 5.96 percent on the news that it is close to arranging a deal to buy a majority stake in Cairn Energy’s (LSE: CNE) India operations.

Cairn was up 3.56 percent on the news.

TUI Travel (LSE: TT) added 4.47 percent after Goldman Sachs upgraded its recommendation on the travel agent from “neutral” to “buy”.

The retail sector was mixed, with retail bakery chain Gregg’s (LSE: GRG) turning in the best performance with a gain of 2.13 percent, while home improvement retailer Home Retail Group (LSE: HOME) doing worst as it dropped 2.18 percent and clothing retailer Next (LSE: NXT) fell 2.14 percent.

Over on the 250, aerospace and automotive components manufacturer Senior (LSE: SNR) was the biggest gainer, adding 3.37 percent, while defense technology company QinetiQ Group (LSE: QQ) dropped 5.28 percent for the worst performance on the index.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.28 percent to 1,045.65, but the CAC-40 was down 0..28 percent to 3,610.91, the Dax fell 0.4 percent to 6,110.41 and the IBEX dropped 0.64 percent to 10,275.8.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on the session, with gains coming on positive earnings reports from around the region.

The Nikkei 225 added 0.44 percent to 9,253.46 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was up 0.42 percent to 831.24 and the Mothers market gained 0.65 percent to 373.85.

MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings (TYO: 8725) added 4.4 percent after it reported that quarterly profits were up by 29 percent and announced that it will buy back as much as 1.1 percent of its shares.

The Straits Times Index was up 0.44 percent to 2,939.97 in Singapore while India’s Sensex added 0.52 percent to 18,167.03, the Taiex gained 0.79 percent to 7,891.58 in Taiwan and the Shanghai Composite was 1.21 percent higher to 2,606.7.

The Sydney Ordinaries gained 1.32 percent to 4,480.9 in Australia, while the S&P/ASX200 was up 1.33 percent to 4,459.6.

South Korea’s Kospi was 1.42 percent higher to 1,746.24 as Korean Air (KRX: 003490) said that operating profits were at record levels and cargo sales had added 86 percent.

On the other hand, the Hang Seng was 0.16 percent lower to 21,071.57 in Hong Kong.

New York markets were mixed in early afternoon trade as the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 0.17 percent to 10,337.51 at a few minutes after 1 p.m. local time, while at the same time the S&P 500 was up 0.06 percent to 1,084.28 but the Nasdaq Composite was 0.22 percent lower to 2,185.49.

Crude oil prices were slightly lower at early afternoon in New York, while silver traded higher on metals markets but gold and copper prices were lower, although gold was still trading above $1,215 per troy ounce.

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