Tuesday, 29 December 2009

UK Economy To Grow Slowly In 2010 As Job Concerns Stay-Survey

UK Economy To Grow Slowly In 2010 As Job Concerns Stay-Survey

LONDON (Dow Jones)--The U.K. economy is set to grow only slowly in 2010, while concerns over job security persist among financial professionals based in the U.K., a survey showed Tuesday.

The survey by eFinancialCareers.com showed just 41% of U.K.-based financial professionals are expecting some economic growth next year, while over a third said the economy will be flat in 2010. Of the remaining number of professionals surveyed, 19% said they think the economy will contract again next year and just 4% said they expect strong growth.

The U.K. economy has now contracted for six straight quarters after falling 0.2% on the quarter in the third quarter of the year. That is the longest contraction on record in the U.K., although economists are confident that gross domestic product expanded in the final three months of 2009.

-By Ilona Billington, Dow Jones Newswires; 44 207 842 9452; ilona.billington@dowjones.com

Click here to go to Dow Jones NewsPlus, a web front page of today's most important business and market news, analysis and commentary: http://www.djnewsplus.com/access/al?rnd=6U60xXwSNLFNLajFFImqkg%3D%3D. You can use this link on the day this article is published and the following day.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 29, 2009 06:26 ET (11:26 GMT)


Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Asian Shares End Mixed; Australia At Highest Close In 2 Months


Asian Shares End Mixed; Australia At Highest Close In 2 Months

By Myra P. Saefong and Colin Ng


Asian markets were mixed Tuesday, with Australia closing at its highest level in more than two months supported by gains in Nufarm on news of a strategic investment from Japan's Sumitomo Chemical.

"The bigger catalyst to get Asian stocks really moving big in one-day moves would probably not occur until after New Year's Day," said Richard Hastings, a consumer strategist at Global Hunter Securities. That's "when more data and then the critical Q4 earnings in industrial and global stocks tells us how global companies want to invest their capital; where do they see growth; and whether they seem eager to merge."

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 outperformed the region, gaining 1.1% to finish at 4845.10. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed flat, South Korea's Kospi Composite fell 0.8%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.1%, and the Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.7%.

Among Australian banks, Commonwealth Bank closed up 1.2% and National Australia Bank gained 1.8%. Miner BHP Billiton was up 1.1%, and Rio Tinto rose 1.3%.

Nufarm advanced 2.8% to 10.86 Australian dollars ($9.68) after earlier hitting A$11.10 on news of a strategic investment by Sumitomo Chemical. The Japanese company has the Australian foreign investment review board's approval to buy 20% of Nufarm for A$14 a share. Nufarm rejected a lower offer from China's Sinochem and is planning a A$250 million entitlement offer, fully underwritten by UBS.

"Sumitomo turned out to be the white knight waiting in the wings, happy to give shareholders the opportunity to sell out part of their stake (up to 20%)...while retaining a decent percentage to benefit from a turnaround in performance," said Cameron Peacock, a market analyst at IG Markets, in a note to clients. "Christmas certainly came twice this year for Nufarm shareholders."

In Tokyo, Sumitomo Chemical ended flat for the day. But financial stocks fell, tracking their U.S. counterparts, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group down 2.8% and Mizuho Financial Group off 0.6%.

The Hong Kong stock market was lifted by gains in property stocks, which were rebounding after declines on Monday in the wake of weaker-than-expected land auction results. Sino Land rose 0.5% and Henderson Land rose 0.9%.

New Zealand's exchange operator NZX continued its pre-Christmas run and rose 3.1% due to its share split and its decision to pay out a higher proportion of profits. "Mathematics would suggest it (the split) should make no difference, but it does because it actually gives you greater leverage," said Goldman Sachs JBWere broker Humphrey Sherratt.

Korea's Kospi Composite posted the biggest decline in the region, with selling in financial stocks fed by lingering concerns over 2010 earnings. Shares of Korea Exchange Bank dropped 4.5% and Shinhan Financial Group lost 2.6%.

In China, locomotive maker China CNR Corp.'s debut was weaker than expected. Interest in large Shanghai initial public offerings was waning after two recent large IPOs dropped below their public offering prices, said Li Nian at Shenyin Wanguo Securities. "CNR's weak debut will pressure other Shanghai IPOs as its IPO price was too high." CNR's IPO price was at 5.56 Chinese yuan (81 U.S. cents), and the stock opened up 4.3%, well below expectations for a 16.5% surge. It closed 2.3% higher.

In other markets, Singapore's Straits Times Index closed up 0.5%, Indonesia's headline stock index climbed 0.4%, and India's Sensex rose 0.2%. Taiwan shares closed down 0.1%, Philippine shares rose 0.7%, and New Zealand's NZX-50 added 0.6%.

Foreign exchange majors were in very tight ranges, with trading volumes thinned by the holidays. The dollar was at 91.65 yen from 91.62 yen in late New York trade Monday, while the euro was at $1.4415 from $1.4384 and 131.15 yen from 131.78 yen.

"The decline of the yen against the U.S. dollar since early December has been a high quality move, built on improving fundamentals that were given more substance from [Monday's] retail sales data from the U.S.," said Hastings, of Global Hunter Securities.

"If things go well, then we could get a move in the yen similar to the March to August 2008 decline," he said. "This time perhaps giving us a 97.50 level on the yen by mid-January."

The Euro's recent slide against the dollar may have gone too far, and a correction higher was looking increasingly likely, said Brown Brothers Harriman in a note.

Japanese government bonds ended higher on the back of solid dip-buying demand. The lead JGB futures contract rose 0.15 to 139.53 while the 10-year cash JGB yield fell 0.5 basis point at 1.295%.

Spot gold was at $1,104.10 per troy ounce, down $2.80 from the New York close. February crude oil was up 3 cents at $78.80 per barrel on Globex.

"Crude is hovering around the $79 level while the news from Shanghai Electric Power confirmed very high demand for electric power, with the same effect building up this week in the Northern and Eastern U.S. Canada," said Hastings. "So the week's fundamental demand news remains very supportive for pricing power in major industrial commodities."

Click here to go to Dow Jones NewsPlus, a web front page of today's most important business and market news, analysis and commentary: http://www.djnewsplus.com/access/al?rnd=6U60xXwSNLFNLajFFImqkg%3D%3D. You can use this link on the day this article is published and the following day.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 29, 2009 06:18 ET (11:18 GMT)


Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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