Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 10 News List

European indicators end week in fine form

AFP , LONDON

European stock markets ended the week in fine form on Friday, with the London and Paris exchanges jumping to four-year highs on Wall Street gains and corporate news.

The London FTSE 100 index added 0.71 percent to close at 5,731.8, its highest level since June 14, 2001. In Paris the CAC 40 added 0.66 percent to reach 4,867.15, a four-year high, while in Frankfurt the DAX climbed 0.36 percent to 5,536.32.

The Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares added 0.46 percent to finish at 3,666.99.

On the currency market the US dollar fell to a three-month low against the euro on news that the US economy produced far fewer jobs than had been expected last month, reinforcing speculation that a cycle of US rate hikes may soon come to an end.

The single European currency in late-day trading had risen to US$1.2143 from US$1.2105 late Thursday in New York. The euro at one point shot up to US$1.2178, its best reading since US$1.2178.

Figures from the US Labor Department showed job growth slowed to 108,000 last month from an upwardly revised 305,000 in November and expectations of a 205,000 increase.

US stocks rose in early trading, extending the January rally, as the job report boosted hopes that the Federal Reserve would end its policy of interest rate hikes sooner rather than later.

"If the [jobs] number had been too strong, people would translate into the fact that the Fed would have to raise rates over a longer period of time," said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the US equity group at Deutsche Bank.

"It's a relief that the employment market is not overheating, as the Fed, if you look back over the years, has been very sensitive to any type of inflation coming out of wages," he said.

In London oil stocks were well supported in response to rising crude prices. BP added 1.26 percent to reach £6.4250 while Royal Dutch Shell gained 1.5 percent to close at £19.35.

Mining issues were mixed in response to lower copper prices. Anglo American added 1.90 percent to end the week at £20.34 while Antofagasta lost 0.79 percent to finish at £18.95.

In Paris predictions of solid performance this year in the tech sector saw Alcatel rise 2.51 percent to 11.45 euros, STMicroelectronics 2.79 percent to 16.19 euros and Capgemini 1.89 percent to 38.27 euros. Stock market operator Euronext fell 2.93 percent to 43.33 euros after the bank CSFB lowered its recommendation on the group.

In Frankfurt Deutsche Post rose 2.47 percent to 21.54 euros on positive comments from the bank HSBC.

Elsewhere there were gains of 0.15 percent to 3,643.73 on the BEL 20 in Brussels, 0.20 percent to 7,718.5 on the Swiss Market Index, 0.67 percent to 446.11 on the AEX in Amsterdam and 0.78 percent to 36,365 on the SP/MIB in Milan.

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