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November 24, 2010    

Compass Group adds 7 percent on gain in full-year profits

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by Elaine Frei
Compass Group adds 7 percent on gain in full-year profits

European equities markets were higher Wednesday after Ireland revealed a four-year plan to pull itself out of its debt crisis, including plans to cut spending and raise taxes.

The FTSE 100 was up 1.36 percent to 5,657.1 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 1.05 percent to 10,731.1 on new data from the United States showing that new filings of jobless claims were down substantially last week, while US personal incomes and consumer spending were both up in October, and after the UK’s Office for National Statistics said that the UK’s gross domestic product was up 0.8 percent in the most recent quarter.

Compass Group (LSE: CPG) was up 7.3 percent to lead gains on the 100 after the caterer said that its full-year profits were up by 15 percent, more than analysts had expected, while subprime lender Provident Financial (LSE: PFG) led gains on the 250 as it added 8.58 percent.

Software group Autonomy Corporation (LSE: AU) was down 5.92 percent, turning in the worst performance on the 100, while electronics group Laird (LSE: LRD) fell 3.03 percent for the worst day on the 250.

Most miners were higher as base metals prices rose in London trade, with Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO) leading gains in the sector as it added 4.25 percent, while Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ) added 4.17 percent on a broker upgrade from “neutral” to “outperform”.

There were only three decliners in the mining sector, led by a drop of 2.5 percent for Kenmare Resources (LSE: KMR).

The energy sector was higher save for Wellstream Holdings (LSE: WSM), which designs and manufactures pipeline systems for the oil and gas industry, with a decline of 0.21 percent, while oil rig builder and refurbisher Lamprell (LSE: LAM) was the best performer in the sector, adding 5.55 percent.

Most retailers saw gains, led by Dixons Retailers (LSE: DSGI) as the consumer electronics retailer added 5.81 percent, while the worst of the five decliners in the sector was DIY retailer Kingfisher (LSE: KGF) dropped 1.65 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.01 percent to 1,087.61 while the IBEX added 0.52 percent to 9,742.6, the CAC-40 was 0.62 percent higher to 3,747.61 and the Dax gained 1.77 percent to 6,823.8.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed Wednesday, with some investors still worried about the incident between North Korea and South Korea, in which North Korea fired artillery shells at South Korea, killing two soldiers, after which South Korea returned fire.

The Nikkei 225 was down 0.84 percent to 10,030.1 in Tokyo, a day after markets were closed for a holiday in Japan, while the Topix index dropped 1.02 percent to 866.57 but the Mothers market was 0.37 percent higher to 384.13.

Among semiconductor related companies, Tokyo Electron (TYO: 8035) and Advantest (TYO: 6857), both of which to substantial business with South Korea, were down 2.09 percent and 0.99 percent respectively.

Commodities trader Mitsubishi Corp (TYO: 8058) was down 1.4 percent while oil company Inpex Corp (TYO: 1605) was 2.12 percent lower.

There were reports that Japan’s Financial Services Agency is considering getting rid of a rule limiting the short-selling of shares in order to increase trade volumes, while at the same time it would drop the limit at which short positions must be reported as a way of increasing control over the practice.

Australia’s markets saw declines, with the Sydney Ordinaries dropping 0.08 percent to 4,673.2 while the S&P/ASX200 fell 0.1 percent to 4,584.7.

Other decliners in the region included South Korea’s Kospi, which fell 0.15 percent to 1,925.98, while the Taiex was down 0.38 percent to 8,297.05 in Taiwan and India’s Sensex dropped 1.18 percent to 19, 459.8.

The Straits Times Index was up 0.34 percent to 3,137.01 in Singapore, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.56 percent to 23,023.9 and the Shanghai Composite gained 1.12 percent to 2,859.94 in China.

New York markets were up in midday trade in New York, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.24 percent to 11,172.9, while at the same time the S&P 500 had added 1.34 percent to 1,196.6 and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.91 percent higher to 2,542.53.

Crude oil prices were higher, with both West Texas Intermediate crude and Brent crude up just over $2.30 per barrel at last report, while metals were mixed as copper saw gains but gold and silver both saw prices below Tuesday’s close.

US markets will be closed Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday there.

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