STOCK markets this side of the Atlantic retreated in early trading as hurricane Sandy threatened to batter the east coast of America, halting the race to the polls, at a crucial time for the 2012 US elections.
The American markets were closed as the hurricane headed towards New York City, causing millions of people to be evacuated. The markets could well remain closed for a second day on Tuesday in what would be the first unscheduled two day market closure since 1888. Despite the market closure, the US futures market ticked lower, taking their lead from the European markets.
Some of the worst affected on the day were the Lloyds of London insurers, as investors became apprehensive over the potential claims that may arise from the storm. Shares in Catlin were dragged 1.7% lower, whilst Amlin and Hiscox saw their shares fall 1.6%. In the year to date, it has been a relatively benign year for the insurers, with few natural disasters worldwide relative to previous years.
However, not all shares were marked down, with Newcastle based accountancy software group, Sage, topping the FTSE 100 leaders’ board, following an upgrade from a City broker. Citigroup upgraded the shares to a ‘buy’ recommendation and increased their 12-month price target, referring to the company’s sharp strategic focus, key initiatives and buybacks as reason to be positive on the shares.
Also in the regional portfolio, shares in GlaxoSmithKline ticked higher following the commencement of phase III program, to determine the efficacy and safety of Mepiolizumab, an antibody used to treat certain kinds of asthma. The shares were however fairly muted as the company confirmed that a number if its sites along the East Coast of America were to close ahead of the impending storm.