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May 8, 2006

Eurofirst up slightly on banks, insurance

Permalink: Eurofirst up slightly on banks, insurance by Elaine Frei

Filed under: Investments, Economy, News

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up just 0.1 percent to 1,399.35 on the day Monday as the oil sector was weak on declining crude oil prices but insurance companies and banks did well.

The oil sector was down 1.5 percent as a whole. Statoil dropped 3.1 percent to NKr20 not only on lower oil prices but on a quarterly earnings report that did not meet expectations even though its operating profits were up by a reported 44 percent. Norsk Hydro was down 3.2 percent to NKr940. OMV declined by 5.1 percent to €53.40 despite saying that it is in talks with Verbund, Austria’s biggest utility. Neste Oil was down 4 percent to €27.75. Oilfield services company Saipem was down 2.3 percent on the day to €20.16.

In the insurance sector, CNP Assurances was up 4.3 percent to €92.90 after last week’s upgrade from West LB. Axa, another French insurer, added 1.2 percent to €30.36 after Bear Stearns reiterated its “outperform” rating. Axa is expected to release its quarterly report on Thursday. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch raised its target share price on Zurich Financial from SFr350 to SFr365, sending Zurich up 1.9 percent on the day to SFr315.

Credit Suisse was up 0.3 percent to SFr77.90, Deutsche Bank added 0.4 percent to €99.20, and UBS was up 1.1 percent to SFr150.60 in a day of advances in the banking sector. ABN Amro gained 1.7 percent to €23.39, while UniCredit was up 1.9 percent to €6.22. But the star performer of the day was Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. On upgrades from Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, the Italian bank gained 3.5 percent on the day to €4.8760. Credit Suisse upped its rating on the bank from “neutral” to “outperform” on what it called its “restructuring potential”. Morgan Stanley based its upgrade, from “underweight” to “equal weight” on good earnings coupled with cost cutting and reduced credit charges.




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