Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 10 News List

US employment data jar European equity markets

AFP , LONDON

European stock markets plunged Friday in the wake of heavy losses on Wall Street caused by a fresh surge in oil prices and terribly disappointing US jobs figures, dealers said.

The British FTSE 100 index fell 1.71 percent to 4,337.9 points, helped only by takeover speculation swirling around Barclays bank.

The German DAX 30 shed 2.65 percent to 3,727.74 points and the French CAC 40 lost 2.60 percent to 3,528.64 points.

The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index of leading eurozone shares dropped 2.62 percent to 2,618.68 points.

As European markets closed, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost another 0.76 percent in New York and the tech-rich Nasdaq index was down 1.23 percent.

On Thursday, the Dow had fallen below 10,000 points for the first time since July 26, slumping 1.61 percent to 9,963.03.

"US stocks suffered one of their sharpest declines of 2004 yesterday, knocking the Dow below the psychologically key 10,000 level as crude in New York resumed its march higher, chasing investors from equities," Sucden analysts noted.

Worries about sky-high energy costs also drove the Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index down 0.80 percent to 10,972.57 points, its lowest finish since May 25.

Hong Kong's key Hang Seng Index closed 0.11 percent lower at 12,478.68.

On top of the oil story, markets took a hit from US jobs data, which showed that employers had hired an alarmingly meagre 32,000 extra workers in July, nowhere near forecasts for a net gain of 243,000 jobs.

Employment in June, too, was weaker than previously reported, the Labor Department said, with net jobs up just 78,000, far lower than the modest 112,000 initially estimated.

In Europe, the London stock market performed better than continental peers, as shares in Barclays, Britain's third biggest bank, soared on speculation that US bank Citigroup was preparing a takeover bid, dealers said.

The price of shares in Barclays rose 3.9 percent to £5.

Citigroup could make a bid of £0.70 per share, according to a report on the financial information Web site mergermarket.com.

But stocks dependent on oil suffered, with British Airways plunging 6.06 percent to £0.213. In Frankfurt, rival Lufthansa lost 3.02 percent to 9.30 euros.

Elsewhere, Vodafone shares fell 2.29 percent to £1.17 pence after the British mobile phone giant published a disappointing set of Japanese subscriber numbers, dealers said.

Vodafone's Japanese unit announced that it lost 3,100 subscribers last month, hit by a high number of disconnects and new products from rivals KDDI and NTT DoCoMo.

In Amsterdam, the AEX index gave up 3.10 percent to 315.74.

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