Sun, Feb 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

European markets gain on solid corporate news

AFP , LONDON

European stock exchanges turned in solid performances on Friday, powered by swirling takeover speculation and positive corporate news.

The London FTSE 100 index gained 0.42 percent to close at 5,860.5 while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.67 percent to reach 5,073.95. In Frankfurt the DAX rose 0.22 percent to end the week at 5,870.79. The Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares added 0.33 percent to finish at 3,826.

"Oil is apt to remain in focus as supply concerns continue to trouble the market," analysts at Briefing.com wrote. "The Saudi development adds to the geopolitical tensions that have been recently related to Nigeria."

Paul Nolte, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates, predicted the market will have difficulty getting out of its trading range in the near term.

"There are still a lot of cross currents in the market," Nolte said. "We have higher oil prices. But we also have an economy that seems to be doing OK ... not terrific."

A report early on Friday showed a 10.2 percent plunge in orders for US-made durable goods. But analysts said the report was skewed by a 68 percent drop in aircraft orders, which can be volatile. Excluding that, orders were up 0.6 percent for the month and 6.5 percent year over year.

In London National Grid, which is weighing a US$7 billion bid for KeySpan of the US, jumped 2.68 percent to ?6.135.

Banks were also well-supported, notably as Lloyd's TSB reported a 4 percent gain in net earnings last year to nearly ?2.5 billion (US$4.37 billion). Lloyd's rose 4.71 percent to ?5.665.

In Paris the big gainers were energy group Suez, up 5.91 percent to 33.89 euros, and gas utility GDF, which added 4.20 percent to reach 29.80 euros. The two groups are considering an alliance to fend off a possible takeover bid for Suez by Enel of Italy.

In Frankfurt, steelmaker ThyssenKrupp surged 2.38 percent to 21.51 euros on positive comments from Goldman Sachs.

Elsewhere there were gains of 0.70 percent to 3,929.12 on the BEL-20 in Brussels, 0.41 percent to 11,786.9 on the IBEX-35 in Madrid and 0.39 percent to 38,121 on the SP/MIB in Milan. The AEX in Amsterdam was unchanged at 464.57 and the Swiss Market Index fell 0.37 percent to 7,954.33.

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