Finance Markets

October 27, 2006

Eurofirst ends higher for fifth week in a row

Permalink: Eurofirst ends higher for fifth week in a row

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.2 percent over the week to 1,448.46 for its fifth week in a row of positive movement.

The automobile manufacturing sector was up on pleasing quarterly reports. Fiat added 0.3 percent over the week to €13.86, while Renault gained 1.3 percent to €90.90 and DaimlerChrysler was 4.5 percent higher to €43.27.

In a related sector, tire makers saw mixed results. While Michelin added 4 percent over the week to €64 on a quarterly report that was about where analysts expected it to be, Continental dropped 5 percent to €87.49 on negative comments from both Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

The pharmaceuticals sector was lower. Sanofi-Aventis was 2.2 percent lower for the week to €68.65 and Novo Nordisk declined 4 percent to DKr455. The sector was hurt by the announcement from AstraZeneca in the UK that trials of a new drug to treat stroke patients had not been successful.

On the other hand, the telecommunications sector saw gains during the week on quarterly results and bids rumors. The biggest winner was Telenor, which added 13.2 percent this week to NKr103 after its quarterly results brought positive comments and target share price increases from a number of brokers. France Telecom also did very well, gaining 8.8 percent to €20.56 as its third-quarter report earned it target share price increases from UBS and Citigroup.

There were gains elsewhere in the sector, with OTE of Greece being the exception. OTE dropped 0.2 percent to €19.80 on rumors that Telekom Austria could be looking to buy a share of the Greek telecom. Telekom Austria added 0.1 percent to €20.01. Telefonica gained 5.5 percent to €15.06 and Deutsche Telekom was 6 percent higher to €13.52.

October 26, 2006

European telecoms higher on session

Permalink: European telecoms higher on session

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

Despite gains in the telecommunications sector, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was lower on Thursday, dropping 0.2 percent to 1,452.33.

Telefonica added 1.6 percent to €14.85, while Deutsche Telekom gained 2.1 percent to €13.22 and Cosmote of Greece was 2.6 percent higher to €18.98. France Telecom was up 3.6 percent to €20.10 on a gain of 3.5 percent in underlying profits thanks to income from foreign purchases. FT was also helped by positive comments from Bear Stearns. Norwegian telecom Telenor added 7 percent to NKr96.60 on its third-quarter earnings report, which was better than had been anticipated and elicited glowing remarks from both Citigroup and Bear Stearns.

ThyssenKrupp added 2.8 percent to €30.82 on rumors that US steel maker Nucor could be ready to make a bid for the German company.

The pharmaceuticals sector was also lower, with Sanofi-Aventis dropping 0.6 percent to €69.70 on the news from Bristol-Myers Squibb reported earnings down in the third quarter. Sales of the blood-thinner Plavix, which Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb partner in, were hurt by generic drugs that serve the same purpose. Also not helping the sector was the 7 percent decline on the day by AstraZeneca in the UK after the failure of trials for an experimental stroke drug.

Tiremakers were mixed on the session, with Michelin up 0.6 percent to €63.45 on positive comments from Deutsche Bank. Meanwhile, Continental dropped 3.9 percent to €88.50 on a reduction of its earnings-per-share estimate from Morgan Stanley.

Bond prices rise on Fed interest rate decision

Permalink: Bond prices rise on Fed interest rate decision

Filed under: Bonds, Economy, US, Europe, UK, Japan

Government bond prices were up and yields fell on Thursday in response to a decision by the US Federal Reserve to keep interest rates steady for the time being as well as its comments following the decision that did not sound too strong a warning on inflation. Also helping prices higher was new data on durable goods orders showing that, excluding transportation goods, orders were up just 0.1 percent in September. The ten-year US Treasury bond dropped 3.8 basis points to a yield of 4.73 percent.

In Europe, meanwhile, ten-year yields also fell in response to the Fed decision. The ten-year Bund dropped 1 basis point to 3.85 percent, while the ten-year gilt was 4 basis points lower to a yield of 4.66 percent. The price gains came as the president of the European Central Bank said that inflation would be an issue for the rest of this year and into next year.

In Japan, government bonds were helped by the US bond market, with the ten-year JGB falling 5 basis points to 1.750 percent. Shorter-dated bonds also saw prices go up and yields drop after an auction of two-year issues saw demand quadruple supply. Yields on two-year bonds were 0.3 basis points lower to 0.755 percent.

October 25, 2006

European carmakers see gains

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 saw gains on Wednesday on advances in the automobile manufacturing sector. The Eurofirst added 0.3 percent to close the session at 1,454.74.

DaimlerChrysler led the way among carmakers with a gain of 4.2 percent to €43.23 on better than anticipated profits in the third quarter. While profits were down by almost 37 percent from the same quarter last year, the carmaker did report a net profit against an expectation of losses in the period. This report, plus a better than expected report from US car manufacturer General Motors, helped send Porsche 2.4 percent higher to €925.10, while Fiat and Renault each added 2.6 percent, to €14.08 and €93.25 respectively. Fiat reported huge growth in earnings in the quarter.

In an associated sector, tire makers were mixed on the session. Continental was 0.4 percent lower to €92.10 after Goldman Sachs issued negative comments. On the other hand, Michelin added 2.8 percent to €63.10 on a report showing that sales were up 4.9 percent in the quarter, about what had been expected. Michelin also announced price hikes and a plan for cutting costs. Credit Suisse reiterated its “under perform” recommendation, but UBS was more positive about the French tire manufacturer.

The semiconductors sector was lower, with STMicroelectronics down 1 percent to €13.17 even though its profits were up by 133 percent in the third quarter. Some analysts, however, expect that STM will not perform as well as the rest of the sector as 2007 begins. Infineon, meanwhile, dropped 1.8 percent to €9.54.

October 24, 2006

Eurofirst declines on session

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

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.

October 23, 2006

Airlines up on falling oil prices

Permalink: Airlines up on falling oil prices

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

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.

October 20, 2006

Eurofirst ends week at 1,445.39

Permalink: Eurofirst ends week at 1,445.39

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 ended the week at 1,445.39 on Friday, adding 0.3 percent for the session and brining its gains since the beginning of the year to 13 percent. The day’s close was its highest since early June 2001.

Several sectors saw gains over the week. The forestry and paper sector did very well. UPM Kymmene was 6 percent higher to €19.9, while Stora Enso added 8.2 percent to €12.73 and M-Real of Finland gained 17.2 percent to €4.83 on the introduction of a restructuring plan.

Safran, the French manufacturer of jet engines, added 7.3 percent over the week to €16.84 on rumors of a merger with defense company Thales.

Spanish property group Metrovacesa was the big gainer of the week as it was up 18.4 percent to €125.1. It is now 70.2 percent higher than it was at the beginning of September on the strength of bids rumors.

Among losers this week, Nokia dropped 4.2 percent to €15.4 on disappointing quarterly results and lower prices for its phones. Software maker SAP fell 4.9 percent to €156.85, also on its quarterly report. In the semiconductors sector, ASML was 6.9 percent lower to €17.9, while Akzo Nobel was down 10.5 percent on its quarterly report and on the delay of its new anti-schizophrenia drug.

European government bond yields rise

Permalink: European government bond yields rise

Filed under: Bonds, Economy, US, Europe, UK

Prices were up and yields lower on US Treasury bonds during the week as investors remained wary ahead of the next meeting of the Federal Reserve, scheduled for next week. Data releases during the week did not help determine the economy’s direction, although most analysts expect the Fed to hold interest rates at 5.25 percent again this month. At midday on Friday the ten-year Treasury bond was 0.4 basis points lower for the day to a yield of 4.786 percent. The ten-year issue had begun the week at 4.796 percent.

In the Eurozone, ten-year Bund yields were 0.2 basis points higher to 3.827 percent late in the session. European bonds were affected by the move on Thursday by two ratings agencies to downgrade Italy’s debt.

The yields on UK gilts were also higher on the day, on the expectation that the Bank of England will raise interest rates at their meeting next month. The two-year gilt was 3.8 basis points higher to a yield of 5.064 percent, while the ten-year gilt gained 2.8 basis points on the session to 4.693 percent. At the beginning of the week the two-year gilt was yielding 5.019 percent, while the ten-year gilt was at 4.642 percent. Friday’s two-year yield was its highest level since July 2002.

October 19, 2006

Eurofirst drops slightly on session

Permalink: Eurofirst drops slightly on session

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

In Europe on Thursday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 dropped 0.32 percent to 1,441.16 as quarterly reports continue to emerge from various sectors.

Food groups were lower on the session. Nestle said that it saw sales grow by 9.1 percent in the first nine months of the year, which was about what analysts expected, but investors were unhappy with that result, which was lower than the 9 percent sales growth reported by Danone earlier in the week. Danone was 1.6 percent lower to €115, while Nestle dropped 2.5 percent to SFr427.

In the semiconductors sector, declines in the US sent Infineon 2.2 percent lower to €9.85. In another computer-related sector, German software group SAP was hurt by the announcement that it would likely not meet estimates for the full year. Even though it reported that sales were up by 17 percent in the third quarter, SAP dropped 3.1 percent on the session to €159.45. Even though its outlook was disappointing, both Dresdner Kleinwort and WestLB maintained their recommendations of “buy” and “hold”, respectively on the software maker.

In the telecommunications sector, Nokia was 3.6 percent lower to €15.36. While the Finnish phone maker’s sales were up during the third quarter, its earnings were lower than had been forecast. Elsewhere in the sector, Ericsson added 1.7 percent to SKr27.05 as its joint venture with Sony helped group profits rise.

Other gainers on the session included tire maker Michelin, which added 3.3 percent to €61.65 on an increased targets share price from Dresdner Kleinwort. In addition, Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis was 2.2 percent higher to SFr75.45 on net profits that were 12 percent higher in the third quarter.

October 18, 2006

Eurofirst in new gains

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

After seeing losses on Tuesday, the FTSE Eurofirst 100 added 0.9 percent on Wednesday to 1,441.48 on several bits of positive news.

Automobile manufacturer Fiat was 5.7 percent higher to €13.53 on rumors that it wants to sell its truck making division. It didn’t hurt that JPMorgan issued positive comments, saying that Fiat stands to double operating profits in the third quarter.

French jet engine manufacturer Safran also gained 5.7 percent, to €16.87, on rumors that there is a merger in the works between it and defense electronics company Thales. Thales added 1.7 percent to €36.58 on the speculation.

The forestry and paper sector saw gains when M-Real of Finland announced a major restructuring, saying that it will cut costs and cut capacity. It also announced the appointment of a new chief executive. M-Real added 14.9 on the news to €4.78. Among others in the sector, UPM Kymmene was 3.8 percent higher to €19.50, while Stora Enso advanced 5.3 percent to €12.61.

ASML, which makes semiconductor manufacturing equipment, dropped 6.6 percent to €17.75 as not all analysts were enthusiastic about its third-quarter report. ABN Amro dropped its recommendation from “hold” to “sell”, while Dresdner Kleinwort reaffirmed its “sell” recommendation. Both cited slowing orders as the cause for their disappointment. Deutsche Bank, however, reiterated its “buy” rating on ASML.

Dutch pharmaceuticals group Akzo Nobel also saw declines, falling 8.9 percent to €43.35 after it said it would delay the release of asenapine, it’s new anti-schizophrenia drug and released third-quarter results that were not up to analyst predictions.

October 16, 2006

European oil sector higher

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 reached yet another in its continuing series of closing highs on Monday, adding 0.2 percent to 1,443.50.

The oil sector was instrumental in the gains as Repsol YPF added 4.6 percent to €27.35 on rumors that Spanish builder Sacyr Vallehermoso is looking to acquire 3 percent of the company. Sacyr added 1.7 percent to €41.22 on the talk even though Deutsche Bank issued a downgrade from “hold” to “sell”. Other oil companies were also higher, with OMV up 1.4 percent to €42.29 and Statoil 3.6 percent higher to NKr166.75.

The Italian banking sector was mixed as Banca Popolare Italiana and Banca Popolare di Verona e Novara agreed to a merger deal worth €8.2 billion, which will create the third-largest retail bank in Italy. BPI added 3.6 percent on the news, to €10.76, but Verona was 7.5 percent lower to €21.09.

In the ongoing saga of the proposed MAN/Scania merger, meanwhile, MAN was down 2.6 percent and Investor - Scania’s second-largest shareolder - was flat at SKr159.50, while Volkswagen added 0.1 percent to €70.30 and Scania B shares were 0.9 percent higher to SKr485.50. Over the weekend VW again signaled support for the deal.

European supermarkets saw losses on the session. Delhaize was 0.9 percent lower to €63.50 and Ahold dropped 1.7 percent to €8.13 on reports that the two had abandoned merger talks, but neither company would comment on the speculation.

Philips Electronics declined 1.1 percent to €27.61 due to third quarter core profits that were not up to expected levels. West LB reiterated its “buy” recommendation, saying that it believes that shares in Philips are undervalued.

October 13, 2006

Eurofirst adds 2 percent on week

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

In a week that saw focus on two long-term stories of merger attempts, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 0.3 percent on Friday to close at 1,440.78 for a total gain of 2 percent over the week.

Both Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo IMI saw gains after both companies’ boards of directors approved the merger on Thursday. Sanpaolo gained 1 percent during the week to €17.14, while Intesa added 3.6 percent to €5.46. But France’s Credit Agricole, which said on Wednesday that it supports the Intesa/Sanpaolo deal, dropped 4.6 percent to €34. The gains for Intesa and Sanpaolo came despite a downgrade for both banks Italian banks from Credit Suisse.

In another merger saga, MAN upped its bid for Scania during the week. Both Scania and shareholder Investor rejected the offer. It appeared that Volkswagen, however, which has been blocking the deal in favor of a three-way merger between itself, Scania and MAN, has changed its mind and will support the MAN/Scania merger. Scania’s A shares added 3.3 percent to SKr490 over the week. MAN was up 3.6 percent to €70.26.

In the telecommunications sector, Ericsson B shares were 6 percent higher during the week to SKr27.35 after its joint venture to manufacture cell phones with Sony posted a profit margin of 14.8 percent.

Bonds prices lower in US, Eurozone

Permalink: Bonds prices lower in US, Eurozone

Filed under: Bonds, Economy, US, Europe, UK

Prices on US Treasury bonds were down and yields rose on Friday on strong new sales data and figures showing consumer sentiment up more than had been expected in the US in October. Meanwhile, comments from Federal Reserve officials signaled worries about inflation and growth that seemed to indicate that there would be no interest rate cuts coming anytime soon.

By mid-morning in New York on Friday, the two-year Treasury bond was up 3 basis points to 4.87 percent, while ten-year issues had also gained 3 basis points to a yield of 4.81 percent. The two-year bond had started the week yielding 4.75 percent, while ten-year bonds began the week at a yield of 4.71 percent.

In the Eurozone, the October bulletin from the European Central Bank indicated that it could be near the end of its series of interest rate hikes, even though it also said that more hikes could be needed if the region’s economy continued to grow as it is now expected to do.

The two-year Schatz was up by 1.3 basis points to 3.67 percent after starting the week yielding 3.60 percent. The ten-year Bund added 1.5 basis points to a yield of 3.83 percent, from a starting yield of 3.77 percent on Monday.

Meanwhile, in the UK, longer-dated gilts saw prices decline as most analysts said they expect interest rates there to rise again in November.

October 12, 2006

MAN raises its bid for Scania

Permalink: MAN raises its bid for Scania

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was higher on Thursday as the MAN/Scania saga again raised share prices for all the companies involved in the story. The 300 added 0.8 percent to 1,436.34, yet another five-year high closing level.

MAN said it would again increase its offer for Scania from SKr442 to SKr475 per share and also announced that it has purchased 14 percent of Scania’s voting rights. Scania, backed by Investor, which owns 19 percent of Scania’s voting rights, rejected the new offer. Meanwhile, Scania revealed that its pre-tax earnings over the past nine months have gone up by 31 percent, while revenues are up almost 15 percent during that period. Volkswagen, which owns 34 percent of Scania’s voting rights and recently purchased 15 percent of MAN, continues to try to convince MAN and Scania to join it in a three-way deal.

All of this sent Scania’s A shares, those shares with voting rights, 10.1 percent higher to SKr490. Scania’s B shares added even more, gaining 11.1 percent to SKr476. MAN was 3.7 percent higher to €69.81, while Investor gained 2.2 percent to SKr162.50 and VW was up 0.4 percent to €70.24. Meanwhile Volvo, a domestic rival to Scania, added 2.7 percent to SKr458.50.

In the aerospace sector, EADS was 1.7 percent higher to €21.37 after the French and German governments said that they continue to support Airbus despite the airplane manufacturing unit’s continuing delay problems. German chancellor Angela Merkel added that her government was thinking about purchasing a stake in EADS.

The banking sector was higher on the session. Among Greek banks, EFG Eurobank gained 2.7 percent to €26.40, while National Bank of Greece added 3.8 percent to €34.74 on broker upgrades. In the French banking sector, Societe Generale was 4.2 percent higher to €135.10 on bids rumors.

October 11, 2006

European banking sector mixed

Permalink: European banking sector mixed

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

Despite a round of profit-taking on Wednesday, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was still 0.1 percent higher on the session to close at 1,425.39.

Banks were mixed on the day. Gainers include Italian banks Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo IMI as well as Societe Generale. Intesa and Sanpaolo were both higher after Credit Agricole said that it would support the proposed merger between the two Italian banks. Intesa was 1.3 percent higher to €5.61, while Sanpaolo gained 1.4 percent to €17.91. Societe Generale added 2.5 percent to €129.60.

Credit Agricole itself, however, dropped 5.1 percent to €33.70 on the support announcement and after it said it was thinking about a rights issue worth €4 billion for the first part of next year in order to fund the purchase of 600 Intesa branches. Dresdner Kleinwort, UBS, and ABN Amro all issued downgrades on Agricole.

Other banks seeing declines on the session included Raiffeisen International, which fell 0.6 percent to €88, Erste Bank, down 1.7 percent to €51.09, and Natexis Banque Populaire, which dropped 4.1 percent to €225.

The telecommunications sector saw gains on the day. Ericsson B shares added 4.6 percent to SKr27.30 on the news that its joint venture in the manufacture of handsets with Sony produced double the best estimates of pre-tax profits in the third quarter. Telecom Italia was 4.3 percent higher to €2.33 on a report that a French-Polish financier has purchased shares in the company. Bids rumors sent Deutsche Telekom up 2.6 percent to €12.77.

Most European government bonds hold steady

Permalink: Most European government bonds hold steady

Filed under: Bonds, Economy, US, Europe, UK, Japan

Prices for US Treasury bonds were up a bit on Wednesday, and yields were lower, as investors looked for safe places to put their money in the wake of the North Korean nuclear test earlier this week and comments following that Pyongyang will treat any increased pressure from the US as a declaration of war. In addition, trade was muted ahead of the release of minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting and a speech from Richmond Fed President, who was the only board member who voted for an increase in interest rates at the meeting.

In morning trade in New York, the two-year Treasury bond dropped 3.8 basis points to 4.79 percent, while the ten-year issue fell 1.8 percent to a yield of 4.74 percent.

Most government bonds in Europe, meanwhile, held steady after a successful Schatz auction and economic growth forecasts for the last half of this year and the first half of next year that were lowered by the European Commission. Yields on the ten-year Bund dropped 0.9 percent to 3.811 percent, but the two-year Schatz was steady at a yield of 3.669 percent. In the UK, gilts held firm as well, with the two-year gilt at 5.011 percent and the ten-year gilt yielding 4.614 percent.

In Japan, meanwhile, yields were up as prices fell as the ten-year Japanese government bond added 2 basis points to 1.745 percent.

October 10, 2006

Eurofirst hits another 5-year high

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

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.

October 9, 2006

MAN could drop hostile bid for Scania

Permalink: MAN could drop hostile bid for Scania

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

European equities markets seemed little bothered Monday by North Korea’s announcement that it had tested a nuclear device. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 0.2 percent to 1,414.38.

Part of the gains on the day came from advances in the oil and mining sectors as prices for crude oil and metals were up after the North Korean news. In the UK, the mining sector added 3.3 percent as a whole. Among European oil companies, Total advanced 1.2 percent to €51.90, while Neste Oil was 1.9 percent higher to €22.60 and OMV added 3.1 percent to €39.28.

The MAN/Scania story continued to unfold. MAN said that it was thinking about discontinuing its hostile bid for Scania in favor of talks between those two companies and Scania’s largest shareholder, Volkswagen, after VW bought 15 percent of MAN last week. MAN added 0.9 percent to €68.45 on its announcement. Meanwhile, VW dropped 0.4 percent to €69.31, Investor B shares fell 2.2 percent to SKr154.50 and Scania B shares fell 4.4 percent to SKr443. Scania B shares were suspended from trade for a time during the session.

Elsewhere in the automobile manufacturing sector, Renault dropped 0.2 percent to €89.95 after GM shareholder Kirk Kerkorian said he would not buy any more GM stock, signaling an end to the possibility that Renault, Nissan, and GM might form some sort of cooperative relationship. Kerkorian had been an advocate of such a deal. Peugeot, meanwhile, fell 0.6 percent to €42.92 on a downgrade and lowered target share price from Morgan Stanley. The broker reduced its reccomendation on the carmaker from “overweight” to equal-weight” and dropped its target from €53 to €41.

In the telecommunications sector, TeliaSonera added 2.3 percent to SKr49.20 on the news that investment fund Cevian Capital had bought 72 million shares in the telecom, an acquisition that gives the fund a 1.6 percent stake in the company, making it TeliaSonera’s fourth-largest shareholder.

October 5, 2006

Eurofirst hits 5-year high

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Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

Mergers and acquisitions news continued to drive the European equities markets on Thursday as the FTSE Eurofirst 300 saw its highest closing level since mid-2001 and indices in Spain and Switzerland hit all-time highs. The Eurofirst added 0.6 percent to 1,410.11.

MAN was down again, dropping 3.6 percent to €66 as the fallout of Volkswagen’s purchase of 15 percent of the German truckmaker’s shares Wednesday continued. Analyst opinion is that VW made the purchase to protect its own truck unit and its investment in Scania, in which it is the largest shareholder. MAN made a bid for Scania last month. Scania’s B shares added 0.8 percent on the session to SKr465.50, while VW gained 1.2 percent to €69.65.

Low-cost air carrier Ryanair dropped 0.8 percent to €8.63 after it said it has purchased 16 percent of Aer Lingus and intends to bid for the remaining shares in the Irish airline. With Aer Lingus saying that they reject the bid and analysts saying that there is not much chance of the bid effort succeeding Aer Lingus, which only began trading publicly on Monday, added 15.5 percent to €2.90.

The steel sector saw advances on the day after Tata Steel of India said it was considering a bid for Corus. This follows Mittal Steel’s acquisition of Arcelor earlier in the year. Corus added 15.8 percent to €7.03 on the talk, and other steel makers gained on the possibility of further consolidation within the sector. Arcelor Mittal gained 3 percent to €27.70, while Salzgitter advanced 3.2 percent to €77.82 and ThyssenKrupp was 3.6 percent higher to €27.18.

October 4, 2006

European banks higher on bids rumors

Permalink: European banks higher on bids rumors

Filed under: Equities, Economy, Europe

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was 0.7 percent higher on Tuesday to close at 1,402.38, its highest finish since early May.

The MAN/Scania story continued to unfold. Volkswagen added 1.3 percent to €68.85 after it announced that it had purchased 15.06 percent of MAN. VW said that it was a “strategic” acquisition but that it has no intention to take over the truck manufacturer, which made a bid for Swedish truck maker Scania last month. Scania, meanwhile, said that VW’s purchase put the proposed deal in a new light, but did not elaborate, while Investor, which also owns part of Scania, said it knew that VW had planned to purchase shares in MAN. The news sent Investor B shares 2 percent higher to SKr155 and Scania B shares were up 5.2 percent to SKr462. MAN, however, dropped 7.5 percent to €68.44.

Banks were higher as there were rumors of consolidation within the sector, spurred by French reports that Citigroup was looking at several European banks for possible takeover bids. BNP Paribas, which added 2.3 percent to €86, was mentioned as one of the potential targets. Other possible targets named were Societe Generale and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, which each added 2.4 percent to €125.90 and €18.50 respectively. Citibank had no comment on the rumors.

In the aerospace sector, EADS ended the session 4.2 percent lower to €21.71, and was down as much as 13 percent earlier in the day, after it announced yet another delay before it will be able to deliver its new A380 superjumbo jet. The airplane manufacturer also issued a profit warning. The news triggered a downgrade from Credit Suisse from “neutral” to “under perform”, while UBS lowered its recommendation from “buy” to “neutral”. Both brokers also lowered their target share prices on EADS.

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