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24th of July 2011
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Barclays again leads banks, 100 higher in London

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by Elaine Frei
Barclays again leads banks, 100 higher in London

European equities markets were higher Thursday on media reports that a draft document coming out of the European Union summit in Brussels calls for extending repayment periods on bailout loans to Greece from 7.5 years to 15 years and for new loans to be offered to Greece at an interest rate of 3.5 percent.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.79 percent to 5,899.89 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 0.04 percent to 11,706.7, with banks leading the way on the 100 for the second session in a row as Barclays Bank (LSE: BARC) was up 7.75 percent, followed by Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) with a gain of 5.9 percent while Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS) was 5.69 percent higher.

Gains on the 250 were led by kitchen cabinet specialist Howden Joinery Group (LSE: HWDN) with a gain of 6.52 percent, followed by a 5.3 percent gain for Heritage Oil (LSE: HOIL), which led gains in a mostly higher energy sector.

The food and beverages sector, insurers, and the travel and leisure and health care sectors were all also mostly higher, with drug maker AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) up 1.96 percent after the US Food and Drug Administration approved a new blood-thinning drug for sale in the United States.

The utilities sector, home builders, the media sector, chemicals groups, miners, retailers and telecommunications companies were all mixed on the session, while the real estate sector was mostly lower.

DIY retailer Kingfisher (LSE: KGF) led the retail sector with a gain of 5.61 percent on sales growth in its French business, although revenue in the UK was lower.

COLT Group SA (LSE: COLT) led declines in the telecommunications sector, dropping 13.51 percent, while chipmaker ARM Holdings (LSE: ARM) was the worst performer on the 100 with a decline of 1.64 percent.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.16 percent to 1,103.76 while the Dax added 0.95 percent to 7,290.14, the CAC-40 was 1.66 percent higher to 3,816.75 with just four decliners and the IBEX gained 2.93 percent to 10,017.6 and saw just two decliners.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region were mixed.

The Nikkei 225 was up 0.04 percent to 10,010.4 in Tokyo, but the Topix index was down 0.06 percent to 860.11 and the Mothers market dropped 0.11 percent to 481.26 in the absence of any further progress in negotiations to solve the disagreement over the debt ceiling in the United States.

Exporters were hurt by the uncertainty over what will happen in regard to US debt, with carmakers lower as Toyota Motor (TYO: 7203) was down 0.5 percent and Honda Motor (TYO: 7267) dropped 0.6 percent, while consumer electronics manufacturer Sony (TYO: 6758) was 0.8 percent lower.

Construction machinery manufacturers were also hurt by a preliminary purchasing managers’ index from China, which was down to 48.9 in July from 50.1 in June, with any reading under 50 indicating factory activity in contraction rather than expansion.

Komatsu (TYO: 6301), which makes a quarter of its sales in China, was down 0.7 percent, while Hitachi Construction Machinery (TYO: 6305) also dropped 0.7 percent.

Banks made gains on reports that Germany and France have agreed on a plan to solve Greece’s debt problems, with details to be outlined at a European Union meeting during the day Thursday in Brussels.

Joining the Nikkei in gains, Taiwan’s Taiex was up 0.13 percent to 8,717.14 while Australia’s markets were up as the S&P/ASX200 added 0.14 percent to 4,556 and the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.17 percent to 4,626.2 and Singapore’s Straits Times Index was 0.38 percent higher to 3,138.51.

The Hang Seng was down 0.07 percent to 21,987.3 in Hong Kong, India’s Sensex fell 0.36 percent to 18,436.2, the Kospi was 0.46 percent lower to 2,145.04 in South Korea and the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.01 percent to 2,765.89.

New York equities markets were higher in midday trade as the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.94 percent to 12,689.8 while the S&P 500 was up 1.04 percent to 1,339.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.51 percent higher to 2,828.71.

Crude oil prices were higher after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index rose from minus 7.7 to 3.2, an indication that factory activity in the region is expanding, and after the International Energy Agency said it will not release any more oil from reserves.

Prices for West Texas Intermediate was up $1.27 to nearly $100 per barrel at midday in New York, while Brent crude was last up 35 cents to $118.50 per barrel in London trade.

Gold and silver prices were slightly higher in New York, but copper dropped 4 cents per pound on concerns that demand from China could slow as manufacturing activity declines there.

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