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May 19, 2011    

Energy sector leads London higher as Lamprell tops sector

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by Elaine Frei
Energy sector leads London higher as Lamprell tops sector

European equities markets were higher Thursday, helped by a report of fewer new jobless claims last week in the United States and indications that US interest rates will likely remain on hold until later this year, but some earlier gains were taken back after data showing that sales of exisiting homes in the United States dropped by 0.8 percent in April.

The FTSE 100 added 0.55 percent to 5,955.99 in London, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.83 percent to 11,986.5 after the energy sector advanced on hopes that oil demand will increase in China.

Oil rig builder and refurbisher Lamprell (LSE: LAM) led gains in the energy sector, adding 9.62 percent after it said it will use a rights issue to help fund the purchase of a Dubai-based oil rig buiilder, while Petrofac (LSE: PFC) was up 3.87 percent on a broker upgrade and BP (LSE: BP) gained 1.55 percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch raised its recommendation on the oil and gas explorer from “neutral” to “buy”.

The media sector was up, led by a 4.03 percent gain by broadcaster ITV (LSE: ITV) on a broker upgrade that cited its exclusive rights to broadcast Rugby World Cup matches in September, while most banks, the health care sector, insurers, retailers, telecoms, utilities and the travel and leisure sector all saw gains, while the real estate sector and miners were mixed, with gold miner Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG) down 5.82 percent to lead declines in the sector and on the 250.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.64 percent to 1,138.13 while the IBEX added 0.32 percent to 10,376.8, the Dax was 0.75 percent higher to 7,358.23 and the CAC-40 gained 1.25 percent to 4,027.74 with only two decliners on the Paris index.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region were lower, but Australia’s markets were higher, with the Sydney Ordinaries adding 1.32 percent to 4,828.2 while the S&P/ASX200 was up 1.34 percent to 4,756.4 as banks and commodities shares advanced, while India’s Sensex gained 0.31 percent to 18,141.4 and the Straits Times Index was 1 percent higher to 3,172.56 in Singapore.

The Nikkei 225 was down 0.43 percent to 9,620.82 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was 0.72 percent lower to 831.89 and the Mothers market dropped 0.7 percent to 454.99 after a government report showed that Japan’s gross domestic product dropped by 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same period last year, a much larger decline than had been forecast, probably mostly due to production disruptions and lower levels of consumer spending after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami there.

Banks were also lower in Tokyo and the semiconductors sector declined after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on US-based chipmaker Intel (NAS: INTC) from “neutral” to “sell”, while utitlities remained in focus after comments from Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who said that his government will conisder whether to make any changes to how the nation’s energy industry operates, with Tokyo Electric Power (TYO: 9501) down 8 percent, while Chubu Electric Power (TYO: 9502) was 5.1 percent lower and Kansai Electric Power (TYO: 9503) dropped 4.4 percent.

Also in the region, the Taiex was down 0.58 percent to 8,892.88, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.46 percent to 2,859.57, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.66 percent lower to 23,163.4 and the Kospi dropped 1.89 percent to 2,095.51 in South Korea.

New York equities markets were up in midday trade in New York, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding 0.29 percent to 12,596.5 while the S&P 500 was up 0.15 percent to 1,342.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.26 percent higher to 2,822.28, with the semiconductors sector lower after Goldman Sachs cut its recommendation on the sector as a whole to “cautious”.

Crude oil prices were slightly lower in New York and London as West Texas Intermediate crude was down 84 cents at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude had dropped 34 cents on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Metals prices were mixed as gold dropped 50 cents per troy ounce at midday in New York despite data showiong that demand in China was up 11 percent in the first quarter, from last year’s levels, while silver added less than 1 cent per troy ounce but copper was down 4 cents per pound.

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