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Friday 21st of January 2011
January 19, 2011    

William Hill leads FTSE 250 higher in London

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by Elaine Frei
William Hill leads FTSE 250 higher in London

European equities markets were lower Wednesday after US investment banker Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) issued a quarterly report that showed earnings down by 52 percent, and on a Commerce Department report that said US housing starts were down by 4.3 percent in December.

The FTSE 100 was 1.32 percent lower to 5,976.7 in London, while the FTSE 250 dropped 0.86 percent to 11,728.2.

Despite the overall declines on the 250, the mostly lower travel and leisure sector was in focus among gainers on the index, with bookmaker William Hill leading the index and the sector as it gained 6.96 percent after it said sales were up 8 percent in the fourth quarter and predicted that full-year results will be at the top of estimates.

Also in the top winners on the 250 were online bookmaker Betfair Group (LSE: BET) with a gain of 5.98 percent, while pubs and hotels operator JD Wetherspoon (LSE: JDW) was up 5.21 percent on gains in sales and car rental agent Avis Europe (LSE: AVE) gained 4.2 percent.

Over on the 100 and still in the travel and leisure sector, British Airways (LSE: BAY) was down 4.2 percent to lead declines in the sector on the prospect of more crew walkouts on the eve of its merger next week with Spanish airline Iberia (BMAD: IBLA).

Agribusiness group Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE) was up 4.93 percent on bids rumors.

The biggest gain on the 100 came from the media sector, where publisher Pearson (LSE: PSON), home of Penguin Books, added 4.47 percent on a raised profits outlook, while the worst performer on the 100 was Imperial Tobacco Group (LSE: IMT), which was down 5.04 percent.

Consumer electronics retailer Kesa Electricals (LSE: KESA) dropped 9.81 percent to top decliners on the 250 after it said profits won’t rise above the lower end of analyst estimates.

The energy sector was mostly lower, led down by a 4.09 percent decline from Petrofac Ltd (LSE: PFC), while the seven gainers in the sector were led by Heritage Oil (LSE: HOIL), which was up 2.25 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 1.3 percent to 1,152.71 while the IBEX fell 0.25 percent to 10,556.5, the Dax was 0.85 percent lower to 7,082.76 and the CAC-40 dropped 0.9 percent to 3,976.71.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were higher after US based computer makers IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Apple (NAS: AAPL) both turned in quarterly results that were better than expected, as well as on speculation that China’s economy will continue to expand despite government efforts there to check inflation.

The Nikkei 225 was up 0.36 percent to 10,557.1 in Tokyo, while the Topix index added 0.57 percent to 936.87 and the Mothers market gained 0.71 percent to 473.62.

Chipmaker Elpida Memory (TYO: 6665) was up 5.7 percent, still benefiting from reports that it will raise prices soon.

Heavy machinery manufacturer Komatsu (TYO: 6301), which gets nearly 20 percent of its revenue from China, added 2.1 percent on the hopes that China’s economy will continue to grow, while Hitachi Construction Machinery (TYO: 6305) was up 0.9 percent.

Camera and copier maker Canon (TYO: 7751) added 0.4 percent, while in the consumer electronics sector, Panasonic (TYO: 6752) was 0.6 percent higher and Hitachi (TYO: 6501) gained 3.8 percent.

In Australia, the Sydney Ordinaries added 0.66 percent to 4,944.2 and the S&P/ASX200 was up 0.68 percent to 4,834.6, while South Korea’s Kospi was 0.92 percent higher to 2,115.69, the Taiex added 1.09 percent to 9,086.02 in Taiwan, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.1 percent to 24,419.6, and the Shanghai Composite gained 1.81 percent to 2,758.1.

On the other hand, the Straits Times Index was 0.23 percent lower to 3,241.96 in Singapore, while India’s Sensex dropped 0.6 percent to 18,978.3.

New York markets were lower in early afternoon trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.13 percent to 11,822.6, while at the same time the S&P 500 had dropped 0.85 percent to 1,284.01 and the Nasdaq Composite had dropped 1.16 percent to 2,733.87.

Crude oil prices were mixed, with West Texas Intermediate crude down 28 cents at 1 p.m. in New York, while Brent crude was last reported 26 percent higher on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Copper and silver prices were lower, but gold was just over $2 higher at just about 1 p.m. in New York.

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