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Tuesday 02nd of December 2008
July 12, 2006

Italian banks take Eurofirst higher


by Elaine Frei

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up by 0.2 percent to 1,311.64 on Wednesday, led higher by the Italian banking sector, which was mixed but generally higher on the session.

Banca Intesa dropped 0.4 percent to €4.43 after early gains when its chairman said that continuing rumors that it would merge with Capitalia had no basis in fact. Capitalia, meanwhile, added 1 percent to €6.59 after going as high as €6.7650 earlier in the session, on its status as a possible takeover target. Other Italian banks thought to be possible bid targets include Banca Monte Paschi di Siena, which gained 1.1 percent to €4.63, and Banca Popolare Italiana, up 2.1 percent to €8.29. Analysts expect some consolidation in the sector at some point.

In the oil sector, Goldman Sachs issued upgrades for OMV and Norsk Hydro, sending share prices for both companies higher. Norsk Hydro was up 3.3 percent to NKr174 on an upgrade from “sell” to “neutral”, while OMV added 3.6 percent to €48.55 as its recommendation was raised from “neutral” to “buy”. In addition, UBS upgraded Norsk Hydro as well, from “neutral” to “buy”, and upped its target share price from NKr195 to NKr210.

On the negative side of the oil sector, Goldman Sachs reduced its recommendations for Neste Oil and Saipem, downgrading both companies from “neutral” to “sell”. The change in rating hurt Neste Oil, which dropped 0.3 percent to €2734, but Saipem still managed a gain of 1.2 percent to €18.20.

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