Finance Markets

December 13, 2006

Austrian banks up on eastern European exposure

Permalink: Austrian banks up on eastern European exposure

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

European equities markets were higher on Wednesday as the banking sector was mixed but mostly higher. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 closed at 1,471.57, a gain of 0.6 percent and just below a five-year high. In Germany, meanwhile, the Xetra Dax ended the session at 6,520.77, its highest closing level since February 2001.

French publisher Lagardere added 2.5 percent to €59.10 on an upgrade from “neutral” to “buy” from UBS, which said it sees the possibility of growth by the publisher. Elsewhere in France, utility EDF added 4.8 percent to €55.55, a record high share price, on hopes that tariffs will go up soon. EDF’s shares have risen more than 15 percent since the end of November. On the other hand, French airplane engine manufacturer Safran dropped 6 percent to €15.95 after announcing that it was investigating accounting problems in its defense security unit and dropping its full-year operating profit margin target to 4 percent.

Raiffeisen International was 6.1 percent higher to €107.13 on growth potential in central and eastern Europe, where the Austrian bank has extensive holdings. In addition, Citigroup began coverage of Raiffeisen with a “buy” rating and a target share price of €124. Among other Austrian banks, Erste Bank added 0.5 percent to €57.63. Erste also has exposure to eastern Europe.

Elsewhere in the sector, ABN Amro was 3 percent higher to €24.10 on the news that it has completed its purchase of Italian bank Antonveneta. There were also rumors that ING is interested in bidding for ABN, its larger Dutch rival. ING gained 2.2 percent to €33.16.

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