Eurofirst drops slightly

| April 18, 2006

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 lost 0.1 percent on Tuesday to 1,368.17, with declines blamed on high oil prices and a lower tech sector. Meanwhile, the automobile manufacturing sector was mixed and airlines were down on the day.

The rise in crude oil prices led to declines in the airline sector. Scandinavian airline SAS dropped 3.8 percent to SKr101.50, while Air France-KLM was down 1.9 percent to €18.42 and Ryanair declined by 1.4 percent to €7.17.

In the automobile manufacturing sector, Volkswagen was the biggest loser at 1.6 percent to €61.54. DaimlerChrysler was down 0.7 percent to €45.64, while BMW dropped 0.6 percent to €44.20. Bucking the trend was Peugeot, which added 0.4 percent to €50.25 on the news that it will close a plant in the UK with a loss of 2,300 jobs.

Gains in the oil sector helped the Eurofirst limit its losses on the day. Statoil was up 4.1 percent to NKr202.50 after Merrill Lynch raised its target share price from NKr190 to NKr220. Norsk Hydro was up 3 percent to NKr958.50, while Neste Oil gained 3 percent to €28.75 and OMV added 3.1 percent to €58.75.

In the tech sector, Philips Electronics dropped 2.1 percent to €26.28 even though they saw a 37 percent rise in net profits in the first quarter. The decline on the day was due at least partly to investor disappointment that a first-quarter share buyback was not extended further.

Elsewhere in the tech sector, Nokia dropped 0.3 percent to €17.36, Ericsson was down 0.7 percent to SKr29.30, and SAP lost 1.5 percent to €180.07.

Pharmaceuticals company Roche lost 1.9 percent to SFr188.90 when HSBC dropped its target share price from SFr233 to SFr222. HSBC did, however, maintain its “overweight” rating for the drug company.


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