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Friday 11th of February 2011
December 9, 2010    

Most London banks advance, led by Barclays

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by Elaine Frei
Most London banks advance, led by Barclays

European equities markets were mostly higher Thursday on optimistic reports which support the view that the economy is recovering and after the US Labor Department said that fewer new unemployment claims than expected were filed last week in the United States.

The FTSE 100 was 0.23 percent higher to 5,807.96 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 0.4 percent to 11,263.4.

Banks were mostly higher in London, with Barclay’s Bank (LSE: BARC) up 4.49 percent to lead gains in the sector and on the 100, followed by a 3.25 percent gain for Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LSE: RBS), but Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) dropped by 3.62 percent.

Insurers were also mostly higher, led by a 3.07 percent gain from Prudential (LSE: PRU), but automobile insurer Admiral Group (LSE: ADM) dropped by 0.76 percent for the only decline in the sector.

The energy sector was mostly lower, with AMEC (LSE: AMEC), which provides engineering and consultancy services to oil and gas groups, turning in the worst performance in the sector as it dropped 2.62 percent, but Hansen Transmissions International (LSE: HSN) was the biggest gainer in the sector, adding 4.1 percent while gas and oil explorer BG Group (LSE: BG) was up 3.57 percent.

Medical device manufacturer Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN) was the worst performer on the 100, falling 3.93 percent.

Construction equipment company Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT) turned in the best performance on the 250, adding 9.95 percent after it said that pretax earnings were up 49 percent in its fiscal second quarter, while electronics components distributor Premier Farnell (LSE: PFL) dropped 7.59 percent for the worst result on the 250.

The retail sector was mixed as Mothercare (SLE: MTC), which caters to expectant mothers and young children, added 5.11 percent for the best performance in the sector, while consumer electronics retailer Kesa Electricals (LSE: KESA) was down 4.48 percent as the worst performer in the sector.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.31 percent to 1,122.94 while the CAC-40 added 0.68 percent to 3,858.05 and the IBEX gained 1.06 percent to 10,185.5, but the Dax dropped 0.17 percent to 6,964.16.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed Thursday, with most markets higher on growth in Japan’s gross domestic product and after a report showed that there were 54,600 more people working in Australia in November than there were in October, more than twice the expected gain, taking Australia’s unemployment rate down to 5.2 percent, from 5.4 percent in October.

The Nikkei 225 was up 0.52 to 10,285.9 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.47 percent to 891.6, but the mothers market dropped 0.37 percent to 397.5 as the Cabinet Office reported that Japan’s GDP was up at a 4.5 percent annual rate in the quarter ending in September, better than expected, while capital investment also grew more than expected, adding 1.3 percent over the second quarter.

Banks, brokers and insurers were all up on the positive reports.

Mizuho Financial Group (TYO: 8411) was up 2.9 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (TYO: 8316) added 3.5 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ (TYO: 8306) gained 3.7 percent.

Exporters were also higher after the yen weakened versus the euro, with camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) up 0.7 percent while industrial robot manufacturer Fanuc (TYO: 6954) was 1.2 percent higher.

Among carmakers, Nissan Motors (TYO: 7201) added 1.2 percent while Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) was up 1.6 percent and Mazda Motor (TYO: 7261) gained 2.9 percent.

Other gainers in the region included the Straits Times Index, which added 0.23 percent to 3,210.2 in Singapore, while the Hang Seng was up 0.34 percent to 23,171.8 in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s Taiex was 0.58 percent higher to 8,753.84.

The Sydney Ordinaries added 0.75 percent to 4,827.5 in Australia on the positive jobs news there, while the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.88 percent to 4,827.5.

South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.7 percent to 1,988.96.

In China, the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.32 percent to 2,810.95 on expectations of more moves to tighten monetary policy there, while India’s Sensex was down 2.31 percent to 19,242.4.

The declines in India’s markets came amid several investigations into financial wrongdoing, including a look at sales of mobile-phone licenses which led to a search of the home of the nation’s former telecommunications minister.

New York markets were mixed at early afternoon local time as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.17 percent to 11,353.3 but the S&P 500 had added 0.21 percent to 1,230.87 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.25 percent to 2,615.6.

Crude oil prices were higher, as were precious metals prices, with gold up $10 in early afternoon trade to above $1,390 per troy ounce, but copper prices had dropped.

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