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Airlines up on falling oil prices


by Elaine Frei
October 23, 2006

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 0.4 percent to 1,450.5 on Monday’s session as financial sectors saw gains that helped balance out losses in the oil sector.

The banking sector was helped by expectations of good earnings reports as well as by continuing bids rumors. Italian bank UniCredit was 0.8 percent higher to €6.62 and Hypovereinsbank added 1.9 percent to €36.63 on the news that Polish legislators voted on Friday to approve a merger between the two banks. Elsewhere in the sector, Raiffeisen International gained 1.1 percent to €86.95 and Danske Bank was 2 percent higher to DKr246 ahead of next week’s quarterly report. Natexis Banques Populaire gained 3.2 percent to €225.20 on speculation about an upcoming merger.

Airlines did well as oil prices continued to decline. Ryanair was 1.3 percent higher to €8.82, while Air France-KLM gained 2.1 percent to €26.35 and Lufthansa added 2.4 percent to €17.31. The sector was also helped by a 2.9 percent gain in the UK by British Airways on an upgrade from Citigroup.

Dropping oil prices did now, however, give any comfort to the oil sector. Repsol and Royal Dutch Shell each dropped 0.8 percent, to €25.83 and €27.03 respectively. Italian refiner Saras was 1.9 percent lower to €4.06 on a lower target share price from Morgan Stanley, which handed out target downgrades to other companies in the sector as well.

OMV fell 2 percent to €41.25, while Statoil was 2.6 percent lower to NKr166 even though Banc of America upgraded the Norwegian company. In the Greek portion of the sector, Hellenic Petroleum dropped 2.6 percent to €9.84, again on a Morgan Stanley downgrade. Morgan Stanley also reduced Neste Oil’s recommendation, from “overweight” to “equal weight”, sending the Finnish refiner 3 percent lower to €23.30. Norsk Hydro saw the biggest loss in the sector, dropping 4.1 percent to NKr151.50.



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