Sun, Sep 18, 2005 - Page 10 News List

European indexes post gains, helped by oil price ease


European stock markets posted gains Friday, helped by energy and mining stocks, a further retreat in oil prices and a positive start to trade in New York.

The London FTSE 100 index closed 0.45 percent higher at 5,407.9 points, the Paris CAC 40 gained 0.67 percent to 4,509.49, while in Frankfurt the DAX added 1.64 percent to 4,986.50.

The euro stood at US$1.2213.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.34 percent to 10,594.83 as European markets closed, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.11 percent to 2,148.43 points.

The broad-market Standard and Poor's 500 showed a gain of 0.30 percent to 1,231.46 points.

In London, the price of oil fell US$1.45 to US$62.21 per barrel, while in New York, oil fell US$1.40 to US$63.35 per barrel.

Shares in London nonetheless closed just off four-year highs, with significant gains among oil stocks and miners.

In the mining sector, Anglo-American added 5.07 percent to £15.54, Rio Tinto was 3.82 percent higher at £21.49, and BHP Billiton took on 3.19 percent at £8.735, reflecting firmer commodity prices and rating upgrades on Thursday from UBS and Cazenove.

Insurance group Friends Provident put in the best performance of the day, with shares closing up 3.45 percent to £1.7975 on takeover speculation after French insurance group AXA raised its stake in the British blue chip.

AXA announced on Thursday that it had purchased around 21.5 million shares in Friends Provident, taking its stake to 15.07 percent.

One London-based trader said: "Although the stake announcement came yesterday, there are still buyers around this morning on the back of it."

He added: "I think the shares still have further to run as AXA has previously noted it is still looking for acquisitions in western Europe."

In Germany, car maker Volkswagen closed up 2.99 percent at 45.85 euros despite a denial from the company of a press report claiming it was preparing to sell Seat, its Spanish car brand.

In France, oil group Total extended its gains to reach a new record of 219.60 euros, 0.87 percent higher than the close on Thursday.

In Madrid, the Ibex-35 leading index finished 0.54 percent higher at 10,532.1, the Milan stock exchange gained 0.73 percent to 34.538 points and theBel 20 index in Belgium showed a gain of 0.31 percent at 3,275.74.

The Swiss SMI index finished 0.85 percent higher at 6,810.3 points and the Amsterdam exchange closed up 0.81 percent at 398.10.

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