Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Payroll report and Commerzbank give EU stocks a boost

AP , LONDON

European shares closed modestly higher on Friday after a solid jobs report for last month in the US and as shares in German banking powerhouse Commerzbank gained.

The German DAX Xetra 30 index ended up 0.29 percent at 6,241.15. The French CAC-40 index closed up 0.49 percent at 5,336.30. The UK's FTSE 100 index ended virtually flat at 6,148.10, pressured by declines in shares of British Airways and packaging group Rexam.

In the US, data showed the labor market is on a firmer footing than expected. Although US nonfarm payrolls grew by a lower-than-expected 92,000 last month, the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent, its lowest level in more than five years.

Shares of Commerzbank ended up 4.3 percent after its third-quarter net profit exceeded expectations. The German bank also said it expects this year to be one of the best in its history.

Shares of insurance giant Allianz gave up earlier gains to finish down 0.7 percent. It posted a higher net profit from the sale of one of its units and after a good performance from its non-life business.

Shares of British Airways, Europe's third-largest airline, fell 3.4 percent after it said profit dropped 1.8 percent in the second quarter as tough security measures at Heathrow airport after summer terrorism scares cost the company.

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair said the number of passengers it carried last month rose 23 percent to 3.7 million. Load factor slipped to 83 percent from 85 percent a year ago. Shares rose 0.8 percent in London.

Shares in packaging company and can maker Rexam declined 4.4 percent. It expects to post flat profits for plastic-packaging operations in the second-half of the year.

Media company Publicis fell 1.6 percent in Paris after it reported organic sales growth of 2.6 percent in the third quarter, lower than in the first two quarters of the year.

"The dip in third-quarter growth has two contributing factors: the winding down of work on some accounts and the cancellation of certain campaigns during the summer," the company said.

Euronext shares climbed 4 percent in Paris after the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported the European stock exchange operator was in talks to sell its 41.5 percent stake in clearing house LCH.Clearnet back to the company.

Shares in food and household products group Unilever ended up almost 1 percent as the company was upgraded to neutral from underweight at J.P. Morgan, which said positive news could support the shares in the next six to nine months.

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