Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Merger talk takes EU markets into positive territory


European stock markets ended the week in positive territory on Friday, powered by takeover talk and a recovery on Wall Street.

The London FTSE 100 index added 0.64 percent to close at 6,565.70, while in Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.63 percent to 6,050.63. In Frankfurt the DAX gained 0.86 percent to finish at 7,479.34.

The Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares rose 0.71 percent to reach 4,423.07.

On the currency market the dollar fell against the euro on US retail sales and whole price data.

US shares soared on Thursday morning after a government report suggested inflationary pressures were easing despite a separate survey showing a surprise drop in retail sales.

The stock market rebound came after Wall Street weathered sharp declines a day earlier. Some analysts said the perception of easing inflation had raised hopes of US interest rate cuts later this year, spurring fresh market optimism.

Stocks shot higher after a Labor Department report showed that while US wholesale prices increased 0.7 percent last month, the key measure of "core" inflation was flat, raising hopes that inflationary pressures may be easing despite surging gasoline prices.

A separate US Commerce Department report showed retail sales fell an unexpected 0.2 percent last month, marking the sharpest decline in eight months.

The report caught Wall Street off guard, as most analysts had been expecting retail sales for last month to rise 0.4 percent.

In London mining issues drew strength from reports that BHP Billiton might be interested in acquiring Rio Tinto, a transaction that would create the largest mining group in the world.

Rio Tinto gained 3.19 percent to ?36.52, while BHP Billiton added 1.49 percent to close at ?12.23.

Market glance

* London: FTSE 100 up 0.64 percent to 6,565.70

* Paris: CAC 40 up 0.63 percent to 6,050.63

* Frankfurt: DAX up 0.86 percent to 7,479.34

* Euro STOXX 50 index: up 0.71 percent to 4,423.07

* Amsterdam: up 0.37 percent to 531.20

* Milan: up 0.36 percent to 43,590

* Swiss Market Index: up 0.44 percent to 9,408.25

* Brussels: down 0.16 percent to 4,667.12

Source: AFP

Media and financial data group Reuters added 1.91 percent to reach ?6.13 after an announcement by Canada-based Thomson Corporation, which is bidding to acquire the agency, that it was selling its education division for US$7.75 billion to an investor group.

In Paris attention was riveted on the Societe Generale bank, which shot up 3.95 percent to 155.70 euros after its chairman, Daniel Bouton, said a tie-up with UniCredit of Italy would be an "intelligent" move.

Elsewhere in the sector BNP Paribas gained 1.48 percent to finish at 93.75 euros while Credit Agricole added 1.51 percent to reach 32.98 euros.

Telecom equipment maker Alcatel Lucent rose 2.26 percent to 9.94 euros.

The French-US group reported a 35-percent drop in underlying first-quarter net profit but held to its full-year objective of a 5 percent increase in sales.

In Frankfurt Deutsche Telekom, despite the start of a strike by nearly 11,000 of its employees in Germany, gained 0.63 percent to close at 12.73 euros.

Automaker Daimler Chrysler rose 2.62 percent to reach 60.61 euros on persistent rumors on the sale of its US unit Chrysler.

Elsewhere there were gains of 0.37 percent to 531.20 in Amsterdam, 0.36 percent to 43,590 in Milan and 0.44 percent to 9,408.25 on the Swiss Market Index.

In Brussels share prices fell 0.16 percent to 4,667.12.

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