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June 30, 2006    

Eurofirst up 3 percent since January

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by Elaine Frei

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 2.4 percent this week to 1,313.62, for its best week since January, but it was down by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2006. The 300 has added 3 percent since the beginning of the year, but it will need to make up a lot of ground if it is to match its 2005 full-year gain of over 20 percent.

The steel sector saw gains on the week after Arcelor rejected a bid from Severstal, which was seen leaving room for an already-arranged merger with Mittal Steel. Arcelor added 7.8 percent during the week to €37.74. Elsewhere in the sector, ThyseenKrupp gained 3.8 percent to €26.77, while Salzgitter was up 6.9 percent to €66.37. Voestalpine advanced by 7.3 percent to €117.60.

European tiremakers saw declines after Japanese tiremaker Bridgestone of Japan cut its profits estimate for the year. Michelin was down 1.3 percent on the week to €47, while Continental fell 1.6 percent to €79.92.

Danish shipper AP Moller-Maersk declined by 5.2 percent to DKr45,400 on a reduced profits forecast for the year due to sub-par performance in its container shipping unit.

Bayer added 4.5 percent on Friday and 8.4 percent on the week to €35.94 after it said that it will sell part of its diagnostics unit to Siemens, which added 0.8 percent on the day Friday and 0.2 percent during the week to €68.03. Several banks either upgraded or reiterated their positive recommendations for Bayer during the week.

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