Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Most European markets close higher

AFP , LONDON

European stock markets were almost all gainers on Friday, mirroring a rally on Wall Street that was sparked by better-than-expected US jobs figures and upbeat corporate news.

The London FTSE 100 index rose 0.34 percent to 4,918.9 points, while the Frankfurt DAX 30 added 0.27 percent to 4,311.06 and in Paris the CAC 40 advanced 0.35 percent to 4,033.46.

British trading was also helped somewhat by a widely-predicted general election victory for British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour party.

The DJ Euro STOXX-50 index of leading eurozone shares advanced 0.49 percent to 3,019.26 points.

As European markets closed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen 0.46 percent and the tech-rich NASDAQ Composite showed a gain of 0.30 percent.

In Asia, Tokyo's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index closed up 1.73 percent at 11,192.17 points, as investors played catch-up after a three-day public holiday in Japan, dealers said.

Hong Kong's key Hang Seng Index closed down 0.2 percent at 14,033.96 points.

An unexpectedly strong US jobs report brightened the moods of many investors, but gains were limited as they weighed the implications of higher interest rates offsetting robust economic growth.

The Labor Department reported that the US economy gained 274,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate remained at 5.2 percent, erasing concern that the economy had hit a "soft patch."

Sentiment was also upbeat following comments from General Electric and the chip giant Intel.

GE affirmed a positive earnings outlook for the rest of this year, and said it would restate income for 2001 through last year after a review by its auditors.

In the UK, Blair's ruling Labour government clinched a third straight election victory.

Despite the triumph however, Labour's parliamentary majority was projected to stand at 66 seats in the lower House of Commons -- whittled down from 161 -- with 17 seats yet to be declared.

Away from politics, Unilever surged 2.62 percent to £5.29 as top of the range first-quarter results outweighed a cautious outlook statement.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant reported a strong rise in operating profit after stabilizing market share but warned conditions remain "very challenging" within key European markets.

Shire Pharmaceuticals increased 1.61 percent to £5.67 on bullish comments from US broker Morgan Stanley after the group said it would share clinical trial data on key drugs next week.

In Frankfurt meanwhile, Schering gained 1.72 percent to 53.30 euros on speculation that the Dutch industrial group Philips could be interested in the German drug company.

The world's biggest dialysis equipment group, Fresenius Medical Care, soared 3.86 percent to 63.98 euros after Goldman Sachs upgraded its stance on the stock to "outperform" from "in-line."

In Amsterdam, the AEX index added 0.53 percent to 356.65 points, the Swiss SMI gained 0.42 percent to 6,027.11 after being closed Thursday for Ascension Day, in Milan the SP/MIB slipped 0.07 percent to 31,412, in Madrid the IBEX-35 rose 0.30 percent to 9,263.1 and in Brussels the BEL-20 closed 0.21 percent higher at 3,098.33.

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