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Banks mixed in Europe

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by Elaine Frei

Profit-taking and not entirely positive corporate earnings reports took the FTSE Eurofirst 300 0.4 percent lower on Monday to close at 1,338.31.

Tiremakers were mixed, with Continental adding 1.8 percent to €80 but Michelin dropping 1.9 percent to €47.56. Credit Suisse upgraded Continental from “neutral” to “outperform” in anticipation of its quarterly report, which is due on Thursday. At the same time, Credit Suisse reduced its earnings estimate for Michelin in both this year and in 2007.

Results in the banking sector were also varied. Greek banks did well. EFG Eurobank added 1.5 percent to €22.02 as it gets ready to release its second-quarter report on Tuesday. Meanwhile, National Bank of Greece was 1.7 percent higher after bank regulators in Turkey approved its acquisition of Finansbank there. Banks in Iceland didn’t do quite so well due to higher inflation and interest rates and a decline in the krona. Landsbanki held steady at IKr20.60, while Kaupthing dropped 0.7 percent to IKr702.

Still in the banking sector, ABN Amro was 2.3 percent lower to €21.67. Even though it said that net profits were up by 23 percent, analysts at both Bear Stearns and at Citigroup pointed out that much of those profits were due to one-time advantages such as favorable tax rates.

Spanish construction company Sacyr Vallehermoso dropped 2.2 percent to €29.95 on a downgrade from “buy” to “hold” from Citigroup. The broker did, however, raise the builder’s target share price from €30.90 to €32.

In the oil sector, Statoil was 1.9 percent lower to NKr182.50 despite quarterly profits that were higher than expected when it said that it could fall short of full-year production targets for both gas and oil.

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News posted: July 31, 2006

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