U.K. stocks fell in early trading this morning, led by Hays Plc, after the U.K.'s largest staffing c...
U.K. stocks fell in early trading this morning, led by Hays Plc, after the U.K.'s largest staffing company said first-half profit fell 17% after slackening economies dented demand.
And Pace Micro Technology, a maker of set-top boxes for NTL Inc., plunged more than 50% after cutting its fiscal full- year revenue forecast.
The benchmark FT-SE 100 Index dropped 12.6 points to 5229.4 after Hays slipped 15.25p, or 7.3%, to 194.75p, the largest percentage drop in the FT-SE 100 Index. Net income fell to £67m in the six months ended Dec. 31, from 81 million pounds in the year-ago period. Revenue slid 5.2% to £1.2bn.
Pace tumbled 171.5p, or 56%, to 132.5p for a 63% decline this year. The company said sales for the year ending in May 31 are expected to reach about £350m, a ``significant'' shortfall compared to the company's previous forecast. That's the third cut to its estimates since September.
Britannic has so far gained 2.8% to 672.5p after the U.K. insurer said it's looking for a buyer after profit fell 42 percent last year and Chief Executive Officer Danny O'Neil quit.
Durlacher Corp. which invested in several internet start-up projects, pulled back a 5.9% gain to 4.5p. The U.K. investor in technology start-ups said its first- half loss narrowed to £1.4m compared with a loss of £14m in the year-ago period, as it closed offices, cut staff by 20%, made more money on investments and wrote-off less.
US stocks had their biggest two-day rally in more than five months yesterday, on growing optimism an economic rebound will boost corporate earnings. Microsoft and Citigroup helped lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its highest level since July.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 22.06, or 2%, to 1153.84, giving it a gain for the year. The benchmark had dropped as much as 6%in 2002. The Dow climbed 217.96, or 2.1%, to 10,586.82, its highest level since July 19.
The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 56.58, or 3.1%, to 1859.32.
In Asia, however, confidence about the markets is waning again.
The Nikkei 225 stock average shed 0.9 % to 11,348.45, ending its four-day rally. The Topix index lost 0.4% to 1,075.31, with more than two- thirds of its sub-indexes declining on concern government measures to support stock prices won't be enough to sustain a rally past the March 31 fiscal year-end.
According to a report published today, nine out of ten Japanese directors do not expect to see a recovery until at least the second half of the year, which counters confidence that the turning point in japan's economy may have arrived.
In other markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged 2.6% to a two-week high, led by HSBC Holdings Plc after Chairman John Bond said the worst may be over following the bank's smaller-than-expected earnings.
Chip-related stocks advanced on signs industry demand is recovering, boosting Taiwan's TWSE Index, Korea's Kospi index and Singapore's Straits Times Index.
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