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September 5, 2006    

Profit-taking sends Eurofirst lower

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by Elaine Frei

Profit-taking sent European equities markets lower on Tuesday after Monday’s advances. Also helping the losses were weaker than expected earnings reports and downgrades from brokers. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was 0.4 percent lower to 1,378.98.

In the banking sector, Anglo Irish Bank declined by 3.1 percent to €12.69 after a trading update that disappointed. Elsewhere in the sector, Deutsche Postbank was 1.6 percent lower to €60.60 on a downgrade from “hold” to “reduce” and a lowering of its target share price from Dresdner Kleinwort. Credit Agricole was 0.8 percent higher to €31.94 after it made an offer on Monday for the shares it does not already own in Greek insurer Phoenix Metrolife. Emporiki Bank added 1.9 percent on the news. Phoenix Metrolife is a division of Emporiki.

Insurer Alleanza declined by 3.4 percent to €9.263 after it reported that both revenue and premium income had dropped in the first half. This worried investors even though net profits were up by 28 percent. The Italian bank also said that it would not return cash to shareholders as planned. Generali, which controls Alleanza, were 0.5 percent lower to €29.34.

In the telecommunications sector, Nokia dropped 1.6 percent to €15.78 even though traders tended not to believe talk that the company will soon issue a profit warning.

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