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BEST OF THE BROKERS

<strong>LLOYDS BANKING GROUP</strong><br />Exane BNP Paribas upgrades Lloyds Banking Group to &ldquo;neutral&rdquo;, saying the shares have fallen too far in reaction to the threat that the European Commission could force it to exit core businesses. But continues to believes the outlook for 2009-10 is &ldquo;dire&rdquo; and warns that the impact of higher liquidity and capital ratios will weigh.<br /><br /><strong>KINGFISHER</strong><br />UBS advises investors to &ldquo;buy&rdquo; Kingfisher ahead of its first quarter results on 2 June.&nbsp; Expects retail profit to rise for the quarter due to a boost for B&amp;Q from the warmer weather. It also expects the improvement in industry pricing to boost its margins. Sets a 205p target price, up from 160p to account for a better net debt position.<br /><br /><strong>COOKSON</strong><br />Goldman Sachs says &ldquo;buy&rdquo; industrial materials group Cookson, upping its target price to 500p from 220p. It believes the current share price discounts the possibility of a rights issue and ignores other more likely options which remain available to management in the event that markets deteriorate. Sees 4 August results as a catalyst.