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Saturday 10th of May 2008
March 2, 2006

Investor concerns send European markets lower


by Elaine Frei

The European equities markets were down on Thursday on weakness in several sectors despite strength in other areas, as well as on renewed worries about rising interest rates after the European Central Bank raised interest rates to 2.5 percent, up a quarter point.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.9 percent to 1,343.20.

There were some gains on the day due to mergers and acquisitions action and rumors. Swedish engineering group Atlas Copco was up 4.6 percent in its A shares to SKr205.00 on speculation that it had gotten a good price for its US-based construction equipment rental operation, Rental Service. In the biotechnology sector, NicOx gained 78 percent to €5.98 on the news that it has signed a deal worth up to €323 million with Pfizer, giving Pfizer exclusive rights to NicOx eye treatment technology.

The luxury goods sector was also up on the day, with LVMH up 3.7 percent to €79.35 on its report that operating profits had grown 16 percent over the full year, well above expectations. Elsewhere in the sector, Christian Dior gained 3.9 percent to €81.80, while Richemont was up 3.2 percent to SFr59.30.

Insurers were down, however. Swiss Re, for example, lost 4.7 percent to SFr89.50 on the announcement that its net profits had declined by 41.4 percent.

In the automobile manufacturing sector, Volkswagen dropped 3.7 percent to €55.42 over internal problems concerning the German automaker’s restructuring plans.

The telecommunications sector was mixed, with Deutsche Telekom up 1 percent to €13.63 on a good fourth-quarter earnings report and Greek telecom OTE up 1.7 percent to €18.18. France Telecom, however, was down 0.4 percent to €18.13.


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