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Tuesday 22nd of February 2011
December 16, 2010    

Antofagasta, Fresnillo lead 100, mining sector lower

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by Elaine Frei
Antofagasta, Fresnillo lead 100, mining sector lower

Most European equities markets were higher Thursday on new data from the United States said that housing starts were up there in November and that first-time unemployment declined last week.

London markets, however, were lower, with the FTSE 100 down 0.02 percent to 5,881.12 while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.38 percent to 11,329 as declines in commodities shares overshadowed gains elsewhere.

The two biggest decliners on the 100 came from the mining sector, as Antofagasta (LSE: ANTO) was 2.05 percent lower and gold and silver miner Fresnillo (LSE: FRES) fell 1.93 percent, while over on the 250 Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG) turned in the worst performance among miners as it dropped 4.22 percent.

Only two miners saw gains as Anglo American (LSE: AAL) added 0.45 percent and Vedanta Resources (LSE: VED) gained 0.13 percent.

In the energy sector, BP (LSE: BP) dropped 1.37 percent on the news that the US government is suing the oil company and several other firms for violating US laws, including the US Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act, alleging, among other things, that the companies did not maintain surveillance on the BP well that exploded and leaked millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year, and that they did not use and maintain safety equipment designed to protect workers and the environment.

The US is asking that the companies be held responsible for all costs related to damages caused by the explosion and spill and the clean-up that has been necessary, and that no cap be put on the amount of damages and other costs that the companies must pay.

Online gambler Party Gaming (LSE: PRTY) was the biggest decliner on the 250, leading losers in the travel and leisure sector, followed by car rental agents Avis Europe (LSE: AVE), which was down 4.05 percent, while the best performer in the sector came from rail and bus transport firm Go-Ahead Group (LSE: GOG) with a gain of 2.03 percent.

The best performer on the 100 was government services provider Serco Group (LSE: SRP), with a gain of 4.1 percent, while industrial equipment rentals agent Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT) did the best on the 250 as it added 5.59 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.31 percent to 1,130.79 while the IBEX added 0.01 percent to 10,010.3, the Dax was 0.11 percent higher to 7,024.4 and the CAC-40 gained 0.21 percent to 3,888.36.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed.

The Nikkei 225 was up 0.01 percent to 10,311.3 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.16 percent to 903.84 and the Mothers market gained 0.43 percent to 423.9.

Banks advanced as Mitsubishi UFJ (TYO: 8306) added 1.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (TYO: 8316) was up 2.2 percent after Nomura reiterated its “buy” recommendation on both.

Exporters were helped by a weaker yen and Suzuki Motor (TYO: 7269) added 1.2 percent after Credit Suisse initiated coverage by issuing an “outperform” rating on the carmaker, while Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) was up 1.3 percent.

Traders declined after copper prices dropped, with Mitsui & Co (TYO: 8013) dropping 1.2 percent.

Additionally, the US government’s suit against BP (LSE: BP) and four other companies over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year included a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co.

The Straits Times Index was up 0.01 percent to 3,147.67 in Singapore, while Taiwan’s Taiex added 0.29 percent to 8,782.2.

In Australia, the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.32 percent to 4,868.8 and the S&P/ASX200 was 0.34 percent higher, while India’s Sensex was up 1.1 percent to 19,864.8.

Decliners in the region included South Korea’s Kospi, which was down 0.41 percent to 2,009.24, while the Shanghai Composite was 0.46 percent lower to 2,898.14 and the Hang Seng dropped 1.33 percent to 22,668.8 in Hong Kong.

New York markets were higher after the report that new jobless claims fell last week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.48 percent to 11,513, while the S&P 500 had added 0.67 percent to 1,243.46 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.85 percent higher to 2,639.46.

Crude oil prices were slightly lower in New York, with West Texas Intermediate crude down 25 cents at just before 1 p.m. local time, while metals prices were also down as gold dropped $13.20 per troy ounce and copper was down 2 cents per pound.

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