Archive for June, 2011

FTSE sharply up on Greek austerity vote

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 | Finance News

LONDON (AFP) – Stocks in London closed sharply higher again on Thursday following Greece's approval of austerity measures needed to unlock critical bailout funding and stave off a debt default.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index of top shares jumped 1.53 percent to close at 5,945.71 points.

"The recent rise in European markets has continued today as markets end the month, quarter and first half of 2011 on a positive note," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"Oil and banking sectors are leading the gainers as fears about an imminent Greek default get pushed out beyond the release of the next tranche of bailout funds."

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) was the most traded stock, seeing 356 million shares changes hands, followed by Vodafone, which saw 165 millions switch owners.

Lloyds, 41-percent state-owned after a massive bailout in 2008, had earlier said it will axe 15,000 jobs in a drastic cost-cutting plan that will halve its international base and save £1.5 billion per year by 2014.

In response, the bank's shares rocketed to the top of the FTSE 100 index at midday, gaining 8.02 percent to 48.235 pence as investors welcomed news of the efficiency measures.

Lloyds also ended the day as the top blue-chip riser, gaining 9.73 percent -- or 4.35 pence -- to 49, followed by oil and gas company BG Group, which added 4.74 percent -- or 64 pence -- to end at 1,414.

Energy services firm Petrofac was the biggest faller, dropping 2.01 percent -- 31 pence -- to 1,514, followed by yesterday's biggest riser, interdealer broker Icap, which fell 1.21 percent -- or 5.8 pence -- to 473.

On the currency markets, a pound was worth $1.6074 at 17:10 BST, up from $1.6060 at the same time on Wednesday, while the euro stood at 1.1060, down from 1.1131 over the same period.

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European stocks surge on Greek austerity vote

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 | Finance News

LONDON (AFP) – European stock markets extended strong gains on Thursday following Greece's approval of austerity measures needed to unlock critical bailout funding and stave off a debt default.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top shares jumped 1.53 percent to 5,945.71 points, while in Frankfurt the DAX gained 1.13 percent to 7,376.24 points and in Paris the CAC 40 climbed 1.48 percent to 3,982.21 points.

"The recent rise in European markets has continued today as markets end the month, quarter and first half of 2011 on a positive note, with oil and banking sectors leading the gainers as fears about an imminent Greek default get pushed out beyond the release of the next tranche of bailout funds," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

The Greek parliament approved Thursday measures to implement 28.4 billion euros ($41 billion) in unpopular budget cuts and tax hikes despite street protests that turned violent this week.

The EU quickly said in response that Greece had now met conditions for the release of the next installment of 12 billion euros of bailout funds under under its 110-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout package agreed last year.

Athens faced the prospect of default in July if the bailout funds had been held back.

The Greek vote will also allow talks to proceed on a second bailout package expected to total a similar amount to ensure Athens has sufficient funding for the next three years.

News that German banks will take part in a second Greek debt rescue package also helped improve market sentiment, as did moves by Portugal and Italy to further tighten their budgetary belts.

Brussels ended the day up 0.97 percent, Amsterdam rose 1.3 percent, Milan climbed 1.62 percent, Madrid jumped 2.13 percent and Lisbon soared 3.03 percent.

London was also supported by news that Lloyds bank will axe 15,000 more jobs and that the London Stock Exchange is once more a likely takeover target.

Lloyds, which is 41-percent state-owned after a massive bailout, said it will axe 15,000 jobs in a drastic cost-cutting plan that will halve its international base and save £1.5 billion (1.66 billion euros, $2.4 billion) per year by 2014.

In response, LBG rocketed to the top of the FTSE 100 index, gaining 9.73 percent to 49 pence as investors welcomed news of the measures.

Off the FTSE 100, the London Stock Exchange saw its share price jump 10.98 percent to 1,061 pence, one day after The LSE and Toronto's bourse scrapped plans to merge after failing to win support from two-thirds of their shareholders.

"Shares in the London Stock Exchange rallied .. as investors speculated that the firm may become bid prey to Nasdaq OMX, having seen its multi-billion bid for Canada's TMX fall by the wayside," said analyst Giles Watts at City Index.

Nasdaq failed to take over LSE in in 2006 and 2007.

"Investors are now speculating that the firm's failure to secure a deal with the Canadian Exchange operator at a time of huge competition and subsequent consolidation within the sector makes it vulnerable," Watts added.

Wall Street also rallied on the Greek vote, with the Dow Jones Industrial average gaining 1.18 percent to stand at 12,406.05 points at 1600 GMT.

The broader S&P 500 rose 0.94 percent to 1,319.74 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.19 percent to 2,773.21 points.

Asian stock markets closed higher on Thursday after Greek lawmakers gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to the key package of spending cuts and tax hikes aimed at helping Athens avoid a catastrophic default.

Hong Kong gained 1.53 percent, Tokyo added 0.19 percent, Shanghai was up 1.23 percent and Sydney rose 1.73 percent.

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Obama to do Twitter session on economy on July 6

Thursday, June 30th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will hold a "town hall" meeting on the U.S. economy and jobs on July 6, the White House said on Thursday, but it will be in the virtual world of Twitter, not a brick and mortar building.

The White House used Twitter to announce the event on Thursday and invite potential participants to submit questions.

The White House Twitter account, which has 2.2 million followers, invited questions to a new account "@townhall" marked with the hashtag "AskObama."

Americans' pessimism about the sluggish U.S. economy, especially the 9.1 percent jobless rate, may be the biggest obstacle to Obama's hopes of winning re-election next year.

Republicans have criticized the Democratic president as having given too little attention to the country's financial problems while focusing on issues such as his healthcare law.

Shortly after the announcement, questions were coming in on topics including green jobs, innovation and corporations for the event, set for 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on July 6.

Obama's White House makes regular use of social media, which it sees as a way to get its message to a wide range of Americans. Obama's Twitter feed, on which he has recently started to write the occasional Tweet himself, is one of the most popular on the system, with 8.9 million followers.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle)

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