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June 1, 2006

Eurofirst closes higher

Permalink: Eurofirst closes higher
by Elaine Frei

In Europe on Thursday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 ended the day in positive territory on a late rally. Investors seemed to discount inflation and interest rate worries even though the minutes of the most recent meeting of the US Federal Reserve, released during the day, were taken to mean that US interest rates are likely to rise again when the Fed meets later in the month.

The telecommunications sector was mixed on the day, although there were more gainers than losers. TeliaSonera dropped 4.3 percent to SKr45.80 after it admitted that its chief executive and another company official had been charged with bribery in relation to a product-launch event. Elsewhere in the sector, Dresden Kleinwort Wasserstein suggested that its clients investing in telecoms to leave Telefonica in favor of Telecom Italia. Telefonica still added 0.1 percent to €12.78 and Telecom Italia was up 1.4 percent to €2.215. Belgacom gained 3.4 percent to €25.43 on a target share price increase from €29 to €29.90 from Bear Stearns, which also reconfirmed its “outperform” rating on the company’s shares. France Telecom advanced by 0.7 percent to €17.58.

Banks were also mixed on the day. National Bank of Greece lost 5.8 percent to €31.88 after shareholders gave their approval to a rights issue intended to raise the funds to purchase a stake in Finansbank of Turkey. Another Greek bank, Alpha Bank, also saw declines on the day as it dropped 2.9 percent to €18.96. EFG Eurobank, however, added 0.1 percent to €22.06. Elsewhere, the Bank of Ireland added 5 percent to €14.15 when Lehman Brothers upped its targets share price for the bank from €13.80 to €15.17.

Utilities saw declines after several energy suppliers were raided in an investigation into anti-competitive practices. Eon, one of those utilities targeted in the raids, dropped 0.1 percent to €89.87. Also in Germany, RWE dropped 1.2 percent to €65.85. Gaz de France also declined, by 0.6 percent to €27.16.



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