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March 23, 2006

Eurofirst declines for the first time in 2 weeks

Permalink: Eurofirst declines for the first time in 2 weeks by Elaine Frei

Filed under: Investments, Economy, News

In Europe on Thursday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 dropped 0.1 percent on the day to close at 1,376.57, down for the first time on over two weeks of trading sessions. On the other hand, Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax gained 0.3 percent to 5,947.11 several German companies saw advances on the day.

Utilities were down as merger talks remained in the news. Italy’s Enel dropped 0.7 percent to €7.02 despite a 48 percent gain in net profits for the full year and the announcement of an increased dividend. Suez also dropped 0.7 percent to €34.37, while Gaz de France declined by 0.9 percent.

Banks were up, led by Commerzbank, which added 2.9 percent to €31.94 on an upgrade to “buy” from UBS. Goldman Sachs raised its earnings predictions on several Nordic banks, sending their shares up as well. SEB gained 2.5 percent to SKr186.50, while Nordea Bank was up 1.3 percent to SKr95, Swedbank added 1.2 percent to SKr213.50, and SHB rose 0.5 percent to SKr211.

Swiss watchmaker Swatch lost 2.2 percent to SFr220.10 on a profits report that did not meet expectations.

Among the companies that helped the Xetra Dax on the day were Schering, Lufthansa, and Infineon. Chipmaker Infineon gained 8.5 percent to €8.92, while pharmaceutical company Schering was up 2.7 percent to €85.23 on reports that Bayer was thinking about bidding for the company, which is already facing a hostile takeover attempt from Merck. Lufthansa added 5.4 percent to €14.52 on the announcement that it’s full year operating profits were up by 51 percent.

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