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October 10, 2006    

Eurofirst hits another 5-year high

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by Elaine Frei

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.6 percent on Tuesday to 1,423.36, a new five-year high level, on strength in financial and banking sectors.

German non-life insurer Allianz added 2 percent to €143.32 on the expectation that the value of its investment in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will increase after that bank’s IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai later in the month. Ras Holding, an Allianz subsidiary, was also higher, gaining 2.2 percent to €22.64.

Banks were mixed but mostly higher on the session. Spanish bank Banesto, which reported net profits up by 17.1 percent in nine months, still dropped 0.4 percent to €16.20 when the increase was not up to projections. However, Santander, which owns a majority of Banesto, added 2.2 percent to €13.18.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Banca Intesa gained 2.7 percent to €5.54 as it came close to an agreement to sell some of its branches to Credit Agricole as part of the terms required to complete its merger with Sanpaolo IMI, which added 2.4 percent on the session to €17.66.

Among Austrian banks, Erste Bank added 3.9 percent to €51.99 on positive comments from Bear Stearns and from Dresdner Kleinwort. Rival Raiffeisen International was 4.4 percent higher to €88.50.

In the transport equipment sector, MAN was down another 0.6 percent to €68.05, while Scania was 2.4 percent lower to SKr432.50. Volvo, meanwhile, was 3 percent higher to SKr445.

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