Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 10 News List

European stocks mixed amid light trade

AFP , LONDON

European shares turned in mixed performances on Friday, though trading was uninspired owing to a lack of significant corporate news and worrisome inflation data out of the US.

The London FTSE 100 index slipped 0.2 percent to 5,057.2 points, the Frankfurt DAX 30 fell 0.23 percent to 4,359.47 points and the Paris CAC 40 rose 0.59 percent to 4,029.02.

The DJ Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares advanced 0.15 percent to 3,072.04 points.

The euro stood at US$1.3068.

As European markets closed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 0.10 percent in New York and the tech-heavy NASDAQ was up 0.30 percent.

In Asia, Tokyo's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index closed 0.67 percent higher at 11,660.12 points on bargain-hunting, dealers said.

Hong Kong's key Hang Seng Index closed 0.86 percent higher at 14,087.87 points as institutional investors, mainly hedge funds, bought blue chips, dealers said.

European sentiment focused on the outlook for US interest rates after January producer price data there showed core inflation rising at its fastest rate in six years.

Otherwise, trading was quiet with US markets gearing up for a long weekend.

"It's rather calm ahead of the weekend, with some follow-through buying in major blue chips lending support to the overall market," one Paris-based dealer said.

In London, oil giant BP fell 0.45 percent to ?5.55 on Friday after broker Credit Suisse First Boston downgraded its rating to "neutral" from "outperform," as the stock was trading within 1.0 percent of its ?5.70 target.

Kingfisher, Europe's largest home-improvement retailer, lost 0.18 percent to ?2.9448 after US broker JP Morgan downgraded the stock to "neutral" in the wake of a disappointing fourth-quarter sales report posted on Thursday.

There was better news for Cairn Energy, which jumped 4.42 percent to ?11.80 after ABN Amro upgraded its recommendation on the stock to "buy" from "add" after the group gave a positive update on its drilling activities in India a day earlier.

Frankfurt shares were hit by higher oil prices, with the airline Lufthansa off 1.83 percent at 10.73 and Volkswagen edging down 0.29 percent to 37.91 euros.

In Paris, Euro Disney was unchanged at 0.13 euros after the theme park operator said its 253.3-million-euro (US$331 million) capital increase had been nine percent oversubscribed.

The offering provided existing shareholders with preferential rights to buy 2.8 billion new shares at 0.09 euros per share.

In Amsterdam, the AEX index gained 0.40 percent to 375.47 points, the Swiss SMI was up 0.32 percent to 5,901.7, in Milan the SP/MIB lost 0.48 percent to 32,008, in Madrid the IBEX-35 edged 0.16 percent lower to 9,570.1 and in Brussels the BEL-20 was unchanged at 3,115.68.

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