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UK Market Advances Moderately

3/26/2012 7:13 AM ET

The UK market is higher on Monday, after a report showing improvement in Germany's business confidence lifted markets in the region. Markets across Asia/Pacific were cautious while the U.S. index futures point to a higher open.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister and economist Mario Monti expressed concerns about Spain's public finances and warned the European Union is worried about "contagion" from Spain's debt crisis.

Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be on course to win elections held in the western Saarland state, preliminary results and exit polls showed. Preliminary results indicate that the CDU would receive at least 35.2 percent of the votes polled in Saarland state elections, thereby consolidating its 12-year hold hold on the state governor's office.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is rising 0.12 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is gaining 0.42 percent.

The FTSE 100 index is advancing 0.43 percent.

Aberdeen Asset Mangement is climbing 3.8 percent after stating that assets under management at February 29 totalled 184.4 billion pounds.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said a federal district court dismissed without prejudice on Friday its request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration regarding final marketing approval of generic quetiapine, sold under the brand name Seroquel. The stock is flat.

Petrofac is up about 2 percent. Reed Elsevier also is gaining 2 percent. Wolseley is adding 2.4 percent.

EasyJet is climbing over 7 percent after trimming its loss forecast for the first half of the year.

HSBC confirmed that its wholly-owned subsidiary The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. is in discussions concerning a possible sale of its Retail Banking and Wealth Management business in Mauritius. The stock is flat.

BG is advancing 1.3 percent after announcing the fourth gas discovery in its Tanzania-based Jodari-1 exploration well.

Lamprell is climbing 4.8 percent. The company more than doubled its annual revenues.

Diploma is up about 3 percent after the supplier of specialized technical products projected higher revenues for its first half.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is rising 0.61 percent and the French CAC 40 is advancing 0.15 percent. Switzerland's SMI is gaining 0.44 percent.

In economic news, German business confidence improved to 109.8 in March from 109.7 a month ago, the Munich-based Ifo institute reportedly said. The index stayed above the expected reading of 109.5.

Separately, a leading indicator of the Eurozone economy increased for the third consecutive month in February, led by investor and business confidence, data from a survey by Conference Board revealed. The Conference Board leading economic index for the euro area increased 0.8 percent to 105.2, after rising 1.1 percent in January.

Across Asia/Pacific, markets were cautious, partly in response to disappointing new home sales data from the U.S. and concerns about a slowdown in China. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose slightly to close up 0.05 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 ended up 0.07 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat while Australia's All Ordinaries lost 0.13 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a slightly higher open for the markets. Wall Street finished a choppy day of trading in positive territory on Friday. The Dow gained 0.27 percent, the Nasdaq advanced 0.15 percent and the S&P 500 climbed 0.3 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is sliding $0.22 to $106.65 per barrel and April gold is losing $1.6 to $1660.8 a troy ounce.

by RTT Staff Writer

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