European markets down on oil, utilities

| April 27, 2006 | 0 Comments

In Europe on Thursday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down by 0.6 percent to 1,383.20 as the day’s trading session closed. The oil and utilities sectors were down on lower oil prices, and the oil and mining sectors were affected by the news that China had raised interest rates unexpectedly. On the other hand, the insurance sector saw gains on the day.

UBS issued comments on several insurers and reinsurers, helping them higher. Axa received an upgrade from “neutral” to “buy, which helped it add 1.4 percent to €29.35. The recommendation on Allianz was raised from “reduce” to “neutral” and it gained 1.2 percent to €134.11. Among reinsurers, UBS reiterated its “buy” recommendations on Swiss Re and Hannover Re, and they each added 0.6 percent to SFr91.45 and €29.70 respectively. Munich Re retained its “neutral” rating and was up 1.2 percent to €113.85. Outside of the round of recommendations, Italian insurer Alleanza was up 2.8 percent to €9.757 on the news that a plan is in the works to return over €1 in excess cash to its shareholders.

Among oil companies, Statoil was down 3.1 percent to NKr203, while Neste Oil dropped 2.7 percent to €27.49 and Total declined by 1.2 percent to €222.20.

In the utilities sector, Finnish company Fortum was worst off, dropping 8.5 percent to €19.60, while Electricite de France lost 4.2 percent to €46.55, RWE was down 2.6 percent to €69.60, and Eon declined by 1.3 percent to €95.95.

Results were mixed in the chemicals sector. Bayer reported an 8.2 percent advance in operating earnings in the first quarter, adding 3.5 percent to €36.75 on the day. BASF, however, dropped 1.1 percent to €68.28.

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