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Eurofirst declines on session


by Elaine Frei
October 24, 2006

In Europe on Tuesday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 ended slightly lower, down 0.1 percent to 1,449.5

Banks were mixed on the session, with Erste Bank 1.6 percent higher to €54.15 on an upgrade to “buy” from Merrill Lynch, while Raiffeisen added 2.4 percent to €89 and Allied Irish Banks gained 2.8 percent to €21.25. Swedish banks, however, were lower on the session. SEB dropped 1 percent to SKr206, Swedbank was 1.7 percent lower to SKr225.50, and Handelsbanken fell 4.5 percent to SKr192 on third quarter results that saw both operating profits and gross income failing to meet predictions.

Oil companies were mixed as well. Statoil was 1.1 percent higher to NKr167.75 on the announcement that its Snorre oilfield, closed due to a safety problem concerning lifeboats, is being brought back online. Neste Oil added 4.5 percent to €24.35 after declines on Monday on a downgrade from Morgan Stanley. Norsk Hydro, however, dropped 0.5 percent to NKr150.75 after it said that operating profits were up 18 percent in the third quarter, less than had been anticipated.

In the construction sector, Spanish builder Metrovacesa dropped 8.1 percent to €115.70 on remarks from the government stock market regulator that its listing on the Ibex index should be examined.

Alcatel, the French telecommunications equipment maker, added 7.2 percent to €10.29. While net profits were down 42 percent in the quarter, mostly due to one-time gains during the third quarter last year, profits for US telecom Lucent, which Alcatel is purchasing, posted results that were better than had been predicted.



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