Sun, May 15, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Weaker oil prices weigh heavily on European markets

AFP , LONDON

European stock markets ended the week on a mixed note on Friday as easing oil prices hit metal, mining and energy sectors and Wall Street rallied in a volatile session, dealers said.

The London FTSE 100 index dropped 0.14 percent to 4,886.5 points, the Frankfurt DAX 30 gained 0.2 percent at 4,275.7 and the Paris CAC 40 closed virtually flat, up 0.06 percent at 4,017.89.

The DJ Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares nudged up 0.05 percent to 2,994.52.

On Wall Street, by London's close, the tech-laden NASDAQ composite index was 24.08 points higher at 1,987.96, recovering from the previous day's decline aided by a five percent advance from Dell shares following the company's solid results released after-hours on Thursday.

In London, Old Mutual shares shed 5.93 percent at ?1.2265 after confirming it was in talks to buy Sweden's Skandia Insurance.

"Discussions are at an early stage and may or may not lead to Old Mutual making an offer for Skandia," the company said.

Any offer is expected to lead to a bidding war for Skandia, with one London-based trader saying he thought US group AIG or France's AXA would be a better fit for Skandia.

Shares in Skandia soared more than 20 percent to 41.90 kronor in Stockholm.

British drinks giant Allied Domecq, in talks with French peer Pernod Ricard over an agreed takeover, said it received an "indicative approach" from US groups Constellation Brands and Brown-Forman.

Allied's share price hit an historical record of ?7.0250 pence in afternoon London trading before closing at ?6.92 -- a rise of 0.14 percent, while in Paris Pernod closed nearly flat, up 0.08 percent at 119.40 euros.

Elsewhere, weaker oil prices weighed heavily on other commodity prices which in turn hit European energy, metal and mining stocks.

The Swiss SMI index slipped 0.10 percent to 5,943 points and the Brussels BEL-20 fell 0.59 percent to 3,037.28.

On the upside, the Amsterdam AEX added 0.17 percent at 355.51, the Madrid IBEX-35 rose 0.10 percent to 9,222.50 and the Milan SP/MIB advanced 0.11 percent to 31,373.0.

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