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Tuesday 05th of January 2010
January 24, 2007    

European banks in gains

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by Elaine Frei

The European equities markets were higher on Wednesday, aided by gains in the banking and oil sectors. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 1 percent to 1,528, its highest closing level in six years.

In the oil sector, Statoil gained 1.6 percent to NKr163.50 on comments from UBS that outlined the upside of an announced merger with Norsk Hydro. The broker upgraded its recommendation on Statoil from “neutral” to “buy” and hiked its target share price from NKr166 to NKr185.

Banks saw gains in several nations. In Spain, JP Morgan issued upgrades for both BBVA and Santander. BBVA added 1.4 percent to €19.35 after its recommendation was raised from “neutral” to “overweight”, while Santander was 2.3 percent higher to €143.49 on an identical hike in its rating.

In Italy, Morgan Stanley upgraded both Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Capitalia from “underweight” to “equal weight”. Siena was up 0.7 percent to €4.9525 and Capitalia gained 2.3 percent to €7.02. Meanwhile, the broker added Banco Popolare di Verona e Novara to its model portfolio, sending the bank’s shares up 3.1 percent to €24.10.

Meanwhile, UniCredit’s announcement that it will buy out minority shareholders in German bank HVB Group and Bank Austria Creditanstalt send shares in both banks significantly higher. HVB gained 4.2 percent to €36.00, while Bank Austria was 4.7 percent higher to €131.50. UniCredit, which already owns 95 percent of both banks, was up 1.6 percent to €7.2050.

Among losers on the day was SAP. The software maker dropped 6.5 percent to €35.89 when it said that margins would be lower this year and failed to issue an outlook on license sales.

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