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Eurofirst sees down week


by Elaine Frei
March 31, 2006

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.9 percent this week to 1,370.43. However, it added 2.6 percent during the month and gained 8 percent during the first quarter of 2006. The week’s losses were put to profit-taking amid worries about rising interest rates in both the eurozone and the United States.

Among gainers on the week were the oil sector. Statoil gained 5.3 percent to NKr189 and Neste Oil added 4.4 percent to €28.37. Elsewhere, ENI received permission from the European Commission to build a higher stake in Galp Energia, the Portuguese oil company. The news sent Energias de Portugal up 6.9 percent to €3.24 on speculation that the Portuguese energy sector could see further mergers and acquisitions.

Swiss biotechnology company Serono dropped 1.9 percent to SFr908.50 on speculation that it might be looking to buy elsewhere. Earlier in the week it had been thought that it might receive bids itself. Meanwhile Bayer, the German pharmaceuticals group, lost 6.7 percent to €33.06 after it raised €2.3 billion in a convertible bond issue so that it can buy Schering. Merck had earlier dropped out of the bidding.

Danish shipping group Moller Maersk was down 9.9 percent on the week to DKr52,900 on disappointing profits for 2005. It warned that low freight rates and rising oil prices will send profits 10 - 15 percent lower in 2006 than they were last year.



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