The FTSE 100 is slightly down with a drop of 2.6 points, or 0.04%, to 6,336.8, although it has recovered from heavy early losses as the merger between Taylor Woodrow and Wimpey has sparked interest across the housing sector.
Property company Persimmon is posting the biggest gains with a rise of 3.36% to £14.47, closely followed by Hammerson which is up 2.75% to £17.93, while Wolseley has gained 1.04% to £12.66.
Miners are also doing well with BHP Billiton up 1.43% to £11.35, while Xstrata has climbed 0.93% to £26.02, although gains are being offset by British Airways which is down 1.06% to 512.5p.
However banking stocks are the biggest losers with Barclays leading the decline with a drop of 2.24% to 741p, while HBOS has slipped 1.69% to £10.47, Royal Bank of Scotland has dropped 1.12% to £20.31, and Scottish & Southern Energy has fallen 1.23% to £15.27.
In Japan the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 41.35, or 0.2%, to 17,521.96 at the 3pm close, on speculation consumer lenders will become acquisition targets.
Credit Saison, which provides credit card and consumer loan services, climbed 90 yen, or 2.3%, to 3,950, while Acom, the No. 2 consumer lender by revenue, surged 240 yen, or 5.6%, to 4,520, and Aiful jumped 160 yen, or 5% to 3,280.
Sanyo Electric Credit, a leasing company, rose by 400 yen, or 20%, to 2,410, after the company agreed to General Electric’s offer, last week, to buy the company for about 135 billion yen.
Tokyo Electric, Japan's No. 1 power producer, slid 90 yen, or 2.1%, to 4,240, Kansai Electric Power fell 110 yen, or 2.9%, to 3,710, while Chubu Electric Power declined 150 yen, or 3.4%, to 4,320.
Isetan, Japan's fifth-largest department store operator, climbed 35 yen, or 1.7%, to 2,130, Tokyu, a property, railroad and retail group, fell 6 yen, or 0.6%, to 962, while Mitsubishi Electric, a Japanese maker of plant machinery and mobile phones, climbed 19 yen, or 1.6%, to 1,205.
In the US on Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 19.87 points, or 0.16%, to 12,481.01, after data showed existing home sales in February rose by the biggest amount in nearly three years, while concern about Iran boosted oil prices.
General Motors posted the biggest gains with a rise of 5.51% to $31.99, closely followed by Alcoa which advanced 1.48% to $34.19, while McDonald’s climbed 1.26% to $45.05, and United Technologies gained 0.98% to $66.73.
Oil giant Exxon Mobil added 0.89% to $75.02, as US light crude oil for May delivery rose $0.59 to settle at $62.28 a barrel in New York, although gains were limited by AT&T which fell 0.59% to $38.88.
Disney was the biggest loser with a fall of 0.96% to $34.99, closely followed by Microsoft which declined 0.88% to $28.02, while Altria Group slipped 0.79% to $85.47, and Du Pont fell 0.62% to $51.03.
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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