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May 22, 2006    

Eurofirst 300 drops 2.7 percent on day

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by Elaine Frei

In Europe on Monday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 dropped 2.7 percent to 1,271.45 as investors fled emerging markets and looked for safe places to put their money.

Banks were the big losers on the day, as were stock exchanges and the steel and oil sectors.

The price of crude oil was down, taking shares in oil companies along with it. OMV dropped 5.9 percent to €40, while Norway’s Statoil was down 3 percent to NKr164 and Total lost 2.5 percent to €49.85.

In the steel sector, Arcelor dropped 5.6 percent to €32.90 as it said it was looking at a new bid from Mittal Steel and that it has called a shareholder meeting to be held on June 21 for a vote on the bid. Mittal declined by 5.9 percent to €23.91.

Euronext lost 9.5 percent to €67.55 after the New York Stock Exchange offered a bid of $21 billion for the European stock exchange operator. Deutsche Borse, which has also been in talks with Euronext, was down 8.5 percent to €101.30 on the possibility that it might raise its bid.

The banking sector saw substantial declines on the day. Those banks with high exposure to emerging markets in Europe were down the most. Raiffeisen International dropped 9.3 percent to €60.85. Eurobank, in Greece, declined by 6.9 percent to €21.20, while Alpha Bank was down 3.3 percent to €20.02.

Investment banks also saw their shares lose value. UBS fell 4.2 percent to SFr133.40. Credit Suisse lost 3.7 percent to SFr68.15. Deutsche Bank was down 3.1 percent to €88.18.

Credit Agricole was down 3.7 percent on the day to €28.92 when it said that it was assessing Alliance & Leicester ahead of a possible bid. However, CA said that the assessment was in its first stages and did not mean that a bid would be forthcoming.

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