Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 10 News List

European markets end week flat


European stock markets closed the week flat to lower Friday after a quiet trading day, but with dealers expressing hope of a brighter outlook with oil prices falling and stronger corporate earnings emerging.

The British FTSE 100 index closed up 0.06 percent, at 4,431.4 points in London, while the German DAX 30 closed down 0.19 percent to 3,831.84 points and the French CAC 40 was down 0.08 percent to 3,607.02.

The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index of leading eurozone shares was 0.30 percent lower at 2,658.28.

Following a recovery in Asian stock markets, US stocks were rallying as Wall Street took comfort in remarks from a key Federal Reserve official suggesting inflation was in check.

Worries about record-high oil prices and the prospect of higher US interest rates have made for nervous trading on global markets this week, but these appeared to recede as oil prices dipped and the Fed comments soothed.

Amid quiet trading owing to Thursday's public holiday in several European markets, Commerzbank Securities analyst Rolf Elgeti said the fact that such fears had eased in recent days was good news for stocks.

"These kind of worries have receded ... No further disasters is good enough for the market to go up a bit," he said.

At a key informal OPEC meeting in Amsterdam, the cartel's kingpin Saudi Arabia revealed that it was proposing a boost in OPEC production by more than 2.0 million barrels per day, relieving jittery investors.

Asia's main markets ended the week brightly, with Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 index closing 1.92 percent higher at 11,070.3 points as investors hailed strong corporate results and forecasts, dealers said.

Hong Kong's main Hang Seng Index closed 2.0 percent higher at 11,576.0 points.

The US market appeared comforted by comments on Thursday from Fed Governor Ben Bernanke indicating that commodity prices, with the exception of energy prices, "may be peaking," suggesting that inflation was likely to remain tame.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 73.10 points, or 0.74 percent, to 10,010.74.

In Milan, shares in the troubled Italian airline Alitalia faltered after an Italian minister stressed the government had not discussed or approved crisis funding for Alitalia, contradicting earlier reports.

Stocks in the company fell 1.15 percent to 0.233 euros (US$0.279) after earlier climbing by some 3 percent.

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