Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 10 News List

European exchanges post strong gains

AFP , LONDON

European stock exchanges posted strong gains on Friday, powered by prospects for lower US interest rates and takeover talk, at the end of a week in which several markets soared to record highs.

"Markets are focusing on mergers and acquisitions at a time when companies have lots of money and could take advantage of strong synergies if they combined," said strategist Yves Marcais of Global Equities.

On Friday the London FTSE 100 index rose 1.01 percent to close at 6,603.70 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 added 1.08 percent to reach 6,068.83. The Frankfurt DAX gained 0.54 percent to finish at 7,516.76.

The Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares added 0.41 percent to close at 4,445.59.

Earlier in the week the London and Frankfurt exchanges soared to their highest levels in nearly seven years, Madrid came close to a record and Paris broke through the 6,000-point level for the first time since December 2000.

The Brussels stock market hit a record on Friday.

On the London currency market on Friday the US dollar wobbled against the euro following news that US job creation in April was weaker than expected.

The euro in late-day trade was at US$1.3587 after US$1.3549 late on Thursday in New York.

In New York, Wall Street's remarkable rally kept rolling amid increased news of mergers and a report on US job growth that showed economic conditions slowing but not stalling.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.18 percent to 13,264.86 at 14:15GMT, extending gains after setting another all-time record high on Thursday. The NASDAQ composite climbed 0.27 percent to 2,572.50.

The US government reported that US payrolls grew by 88,000, the weakest since November 2004 and below most estimates.

But some analysts said the report confirms easing inflation pressures that will help the economy get through the current soft patch.

Dick Green at Briefing.com said the payrolls report "isn't bad, but it also isn't great. It is consistent with 2.0 percent to 2.5 percent GDP growth forecasts."

While analysts expect the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, to maintain its benchmark interest rate when its policymakers convene next week, Friday's employment figures pointed to a possible easing in credit in June, speculation that bouyed market sentiment.

In London, the main talking point was media giant Reuters, which rose 25.09 percent to ?6.1575 after announcing that it had received a takeover bid from an unnamed suitor.

Anglo-Dutch publishing group Reed Elsevier added 2.85 percent to close at ?6.50 on news that it had sold two of its educational divisions to Pearson.

In Paris, automaker Renault gained 5.71 percent to 100.95 euros and was the day's big winner. Japanese manufacturer Nissan, in which Renault has a 44 percent stake, said it was considering production of a low-cost automobile that would be "very different" from Renault's Logan model.

Drinks group Pernod Ricard rose 1.33 percent to 159.87 euros on stronger than expected sales growth in the third quarter.

In Frankfurt, Deutsche Telekom fell 4.85 percent to 12.74 euros. The Verdi trade union said it had reached an agreement in principle on a strike and will submit its recommendation to the membership, possibly signalling the worst labor unrest at the company since its privatization 12 years ago.

Elsewhere there were gains of 1.56 percent to 14,620.30 in Madrid, 0.66 percent to 539.64 in Amsterdam, 0.27 percent to a record 4,719.26 in Brussels, 0.66 percent to 43,973 in Milan and 0.66 percent to 9,455.47 on the Swiss Market Index.

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