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September 27, 2010    

Sage Group leads FTSE 100 on broker comment

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by Elaine Frei
Sage Group leads FTSE 100 on broker comment

European equities markets were lower Monday, with declines coming after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded state-owned Anglo Irish Bank’s debt by three levels, citing a belief that the bank will need another government bailout.

The FTSE 100 was down 0.45 percent to 5,573.42 in London, while the FTSE 250 managed to gain 0.22 percent to 10,562.65.

Software maker Sage Group (LSE: SGE) led gainers on the 100 as it added 3.14 percent after Barclays Capital began coverage of the company with an “overweight” rating, while investment managers Jupiter Fund Management (LSE: JUP) gained 5.4 percent for the best performance on the 250 and in London generally.

Miners were mixed as African Barrick Gold (LSE: ABG) dropped 3.1 percent to lead declines on the 100 and in its sector, while Talvivaara Mining Company (LSE: TALV) was the best performer among miners with a gain of 2.03 percent.

Financial services price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com (LSE: MONY) turned in the worst performance on the 250 and in London as it dropped 3.45 percent.

The energy sector was mixed, with a few more decliners than gainers as oil and gas explorer Melrose Resources (LSE: MRS) added 4.18 percent for the best day in the sector, while Salamander Energy (LSE: SMDR) was the worst performer as it dropped 2.55 percent, followed by Heritage Oil (LSE: HOIL), which was 2.45 percent lower.

Personal care products manufacturer Unilever (LSE: ULVR) added 1.39 percent after it said it will buy US-based skin care and beauty products maker Alberto Culver (NYSE: ACV) for $3.7 billion in cash, a deal that will make Unilever the biggest maker of hair conditioning products in the world.

Engineers Smiths Group (LSE: SMIN), which makes detections systems such as metal detectors, biometrics analysis systems and trace detectors that can sense chemical and biological agents, fell 1.63 percent on a downgrade from “buy” to “neutral” from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, citing extensive exposure to the US, where it gets 48 percent of its revenues, and low sales in emerging markets.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.39 percent to 1,073.93 while the Dax fell 0.31 percent to 6,278.89, the CAC-40 was 0.43 percent lower to 3,766.16 and the IBEX dropped 1.07 percent to 10,613.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher on optimism that the US economy will continue to grow after a report last week that capital investments are up in the United States.

The Nikkei 225 was up 1.39 percent to 9,603.14 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 1.3 percent to 849.3, but the Mothers market dropped 1.6 percent to 363.

Tokyo’s gains came after comments indicating that the government there is thinking about introducing a stimulus package worth up to ¥4.6 trillion ($54.6 billion), and even though consumer lenders were down substantially after a media report that Takefuji Corp (TYO: 8564) is getting ready to file for bankruptcy.

Shares in Takefuji went untraded, but Acom Co (TYO: 8572) fell 10 percent while Promise Co (TYO: 8574) was down 11 percent and Aiful (TYO: 8515) dropped 22 percent.

Exporters were generally higher, including a gain of 3.2 percent for heavy machinery maker Komatsu Ltd (TYO: 6301), which has ties to China, even after Japan asked for payment for damage to patrol boats rammed by a Chinese boat after China demanded that Japan apologize for detention of the Chinese boat’s captain and for a compensation payment of the incident as China gave the released captain a hero’s welcome on his return home.

Camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) was up 2.5 percent, while Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) added 2.9 percent and industrial robot manufacturer Fanuc (TYO: 6954) gained 3.2 percent.

Taiwan’s Taiex was up 0.31 percent to 8,191.54 while the Sensex added 0.36 percent to 20,117.38 in India, the Kospi was 0.31 percent higher to 3,910.97 in South Korea, the Straits Times Index gained 0.67 percent to 3,113.46 in Singapore, the Hang Seng was up 1 percent to 22,340.84 in Hong Kong, and the Shanghai Composite was 1.41 percent higher to 2,627.97.

The Sydney Ordinaries gained 1.52 percent to 4,722.2 in Australia, while the S&P/ASX200 was up 1.6 percent to 4,722.2.

New York markets were lower in midday trade, with declines coming as investors took profits and the retail sector declined after Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) approached South African food and general merchandise retailer Massmart Holdings Ltd (JSE: MSM) with a non-binding bid worth over $4 billion, and after jewelry retailer Zale Corp (NYSE: ZLC) was down after it reported a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.22 percent to 10,835.96 while the S&P 500 had dropped 0.35 percent to 1,144.68 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.37 percent lower to 2,372.34.

Crude oil prices were a bit lower, with West Texas Intermediate crude trading just above $76 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while precious metals were slightly higher but copper prices were down.

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