The FTSE 100 is slightly down in early trading with a drop of 4.9 points, or 0.08%, to 6,184.5, as results news from Friends Provident received a lukewarm response from investors.
The insurer is the biggest loser at the moment with a fall of 6.68% to 188.5p, after it announced underlying profits fell by 3% to £509m in 2006 because of problems at its fund management arm.
Morrison is also down 2.78% to 306p, closely followed by DSG International which has dropped 2.07% to 170.5p, while Wolseley has declined 1.61% to £12.23, and BSkyB has slipped 1.61% to 550.5p.
However Whitbread is posting the biggest gains with a rise of 6.95% to £18.62, while ICAP has added 3.55% to 510.5p, Prudential has advanced 3.32% to 731.5p, Barclays is up 2.88% to 696.5p, and British Land has climbed 2.14% to £15.28.
In Japan the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 153.65, or 0.9%, to 17,163.20 at the 3pm close, as stocks gained for a second day, led by exporters after the yen extended a slide against the dollar and euro.
Toyota rose 70 yen, or 0.9%, to 7,740, while Advantest, the biggest maker of memory-chip testing equipment, gained 50 yen, or 0.9%, to 5,420, Sharp climbed 25 yen, or 1.1%, to 2,255, although Sony fell 60 yen, or 1%, to 6,090.
Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest lender by assets, jumped 30,000 yen, or 2.3%, to 1.32 million, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the nation's third biggest, rose 10,000 yen, or 1%, to 1.06 million.
Mitsui Fudosan, Japan's largest property developer by revenue, jumped 130 yen, or 4%, to 3,360, while Tokyo Tatemono, an office and residential developer, climbed 64 yen, or 3.8%, to 1,745, and Mitsubishi Estate surged 130 yen, or 3.6%, to 3,780.
In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 115.76 points, or 0.96%, to 12,226.17, as technology stocks led the index higher.
Microsoft posted the biggest gains with a rise of 1.83% to $27.83, closely followed by Du Pont which added 1.8% to $50.86, while Exxon Mobil climbed 1.77% to $71.10, and AT&T advanced 1.62% to $37.58.
Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar also climbed 1.6% to $64.17, as just two stocks limited the Dow’s gains with General Motors dropping 0.27% to $29.09, while Intel declined 0.21% to $19.11.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Nyree Stewart on 020 7034 2681 or email [email protected]IFAonline
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