Sun, Aug 20, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Saudi fighter deal boosts British shares in mixed European trade

AFP , LONDON

European stock markets had mixed fortunes on Friday, but London shares were lifted after Britain confirmed it would sell Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia.

The London FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed 0.05 percent higher at 5,903.40 points. In Frankfurt, the DAX dropped by 0.28 percent to 5,817.02, while in Paris the CAC 40 closed 0.18 percent lower at 5,135.69.

The DJ Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares fell by 0.23 percent to 3,791.40 points.

The euro stood at US$1.2813 in late European trading, compared with US$1.2825 late on Thursday in New York.

US stocks traded lower on Friday after the struggling Ford Motor Co announced it was slashing production, particularly of its gas-guzzling SUVs, as it vies to fend off Asian rivals.

In London, shares in BAE Systems enjoyed a positive day after the British government confirmed reports that it has signed a multi-billion-dollar deal to supply 72 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

BAE added £0.095 to £3.695, while Rolls-Royce, which is also part of the Eurofighter consortium, gained £0.0325 to £4.28.

Miners were mostly weaker in London on Friday, with an interest rate hike by China frightening investors into taking profits after the sector's recent gains.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto shed £0.07 to £10.32 and £0.06 to £27.32 respectively after shutting their Escondida copper mine in Chile and ending negotiations with its striking workers after talks failed once again. BHP owns a 57.5 percent stake in the mine, while Rio Tinto owns 30 percent.

In Paris, share prices closed slightly lower as mixed trading on Wall Street prompted consolidation of positions ahead of the weekend, ending a five-day run of gains that had been built on hopes that further US interest rate tightening would not be necessary, dealers said.

Among blue chips, pharmaceuticals group Sanofi-Aventis slid 0.4 percent to 70.70 euros ahead of a US court hearing in New York aimed at keeping Canada's Apotex from selling generic versions of its Plavix blockbuster drug ahead of the full trial on the validity of Sanofi's Plavix patent, set for early next year.

In Amsterdam, the AEX index added 0.15 percent to 463.92 points, the Swiss SMI fell by 0.35 percent at 8,084.18, in Milan the SP/MIB gained 0.13 percent to 37,549, in Madrid the IBEX-35 dropped by 0.17 percent to 12,067.8 and in Brussels the BEL-20 climbed 0.27 percent to close at 3,912.86.

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