Sun, Jun 20, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Europe follows US higher, energy stocks make gains


European share prices followed Wall Street shares higher Friday, wiping out most early losses, with energy stocks making the strongest gains amid firmer oil prices.

In London the FTSE 100 index rose 0.28 percent to 4,505.8 points, in Paris, the CAC 40 put on 0.61 percent to finish at 3,740.90 while in Frankfurt the DAX added 0.36 percent to reach 3,999.79.

The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index of leading eurozone shares advanced 0.54 percent to 2,822.39 points.

The euro stood at US$1.2118.

Dealers reported that so-called triple witching -- the simultaneous expiration of futures, stock and index options -- had increased trading volumes but without having much impact on share prices.

"Volume is very high because of the options expirations, but it has not had a meaningful effect on the level of shares," a Bank Corluy dealer said in Brussels.

However, "triple-witching" on Wall Street helped spark some buying after recent lackluster sessions there with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.45 percent at 10,424.29 and the NASDAQ composite up 0.52 percent at 1,993.98, which was at the time most European markets closed.

Earlier in Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei-225 index closed 1.95 percent lower at 11,382.1 points while Hong Kong's key Hang Seng Index finished down 1.88 percent at 11,855.6.

Shares in oil companies outperformed the broader market with crude prices back on the rise amid violence in major producers Saudi Arabia and Iraq and a strike by oil workers in Norway -- the world's third biggest exporter of crude.

In London, British energy giant BP rose 1.12 percent to 496 pence while Shell gained 0.91 percent to 413.75 pence.

In Paris French group Total firmed 1.13 percent to 163.50 euros.

In Paris, Alstom shed 2.67 percent to 0.73 euros after the French engineering group warned that its financial results could be hurt if orders failed to show a durable improvement this year.

Alcatel added 0.35 percent to 11.48 euros after the French telecommunications equipment group and Italian defense group Finmeccanica said they had agreed to merge their space operations by creating two jointly owned companies, one focused on satellite manufacturing and one on services.

The new alliance in space activities will create the European leader in satellite infrastructures and services, the two companies said in a joint statement.

Finmeccanica finished flat at 0.62 euros in Milan.

The initial public offering of French aircraft engine maker Snecma was received well by the market, with its shares finishing their first day of trading up 0.64 percent at 15.70 euros.

Elsewhere in Europe, Madrid's IBEX-35 index rose 0.08 percent to 8,109.2 points, Amsterdam's AEX added 0.24 percent to 343.38, Brussels' Bel-20 edged up 0.54 percent to 2,471.82, but Milan's Mib30 eased 0.02 percent to 28,416 and the SMI index of Swiss shares slipped 0.22 percent to 5,693.9.

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