Daily news of the markets
London shares end quiet day in positive territory, miners, oils in demand
The FTSE 100 index closed 11.8 points higher at 5,915.2, off its opening lows of 5,883.8, but below its session peak of 5,936.6, while the broader indices were mixed. Volume however, remained seasonally low with only 1.53 bln shares changing hands in 266,423 deals.|
Over on Wall Street, US stocks suffered a negative morning, with higher oil prices and a lack of economic or corporate excitement providing investors with an excuse to take profits after last week's gains, traders said.
By London's close, the DJIA was down 33.62 points at 11,347.85, while the Nasdaq was 17.67 points lower at 2,146.28.
Back in the UK, mining shares led the market higher in an otherwise dull session, lifted by a combination of M&A talk and firmer metal prices with concerns over Iran driving investors once again to safe-havens.
Anglo American topped the FTSE 100 risers with a leap of 86 pence to 2,455, after yesterday's Observer newspaper reported that the group is an 80 bln usd bid target for rivals that are awash with cash thanks to the commodities boom being fuelled by China and India.
According to City sources, CVRD of Brazil, along with British-based Xstrata and Rio Tinto, are looking at a possible break-up bid and have hired financial advisers ahead of a possible approach, the newspaper said.
Elsewhere, perennial bid candidate Lonmin gained and 46 pence to 2,854, while Vedanta moved 10 pence higher to 1,379.
Copper plays Kazakhmys and Antofagasta added 23 pence to 1,233 and 4-3/4 pence to 435-3/4 respectively as the strike over pay at Chile's Escondida mine, owned by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto showed no signs of ending, with workers expected to formally reject BHP's latest offer.
BHP Billiton gained 18 pence to 1,050, supported by a report in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph that the mining giant could announce plans to return at least 3 bln usd to shareholders at Wednesday's full-year results.
Rio Tinto meanwhile, added 34 pence to 2,756.
Elsewhere, oil majors benefited as the price of crude rose back near 72 usd a barrel, after Iran insisted ahead of an official response to a package of incentives on its nuclear programme that it will not suspend uranium enrichment.
BP benefited from a broker upgrade, rising 5 pence at 619 after Goldman Sachs lifted its stance to 'neutral' from 'sell' on valuation grounds.
The US broker said since July the shares have fallen 5 pct against a 3 pct rise in the European market and a 2-3 pct gain for key peers Royal Dutch Shell, Total and ENI. It now sees 9 pct potential upside to its price target of 665 pence.
Royal Dutch Shell also gained, 19 higher at 1,967, while BG Group added 5 to 710.
Second-line explorers were also back in favour after recent weakness, with Premier Oil adding 35-1/2 pence to 992-1/2, Burren Energy moving 17 pence to 920 and Dana Petroleum gained 34 pence to 1,260.
Back among the blue chips, PartyGaming was in demand, up 3-1/2 pence to 114-1/2, as reports that it is looking to acquire sports betting group Victor Chandler Group helped raise hopes that the online gaming group can diversify away from the worrying US market.
With a 500 mln stg war chest raised after its flotation last year, it sees the Victor Chandler sport betting firm as a good fit, yesterday's Observer said.
On the downside, WPP fell 8-1/2 at 643-1/2 as investors remained edgy over the advertiser's prospects for future organic revenue growth following results on Friday.
In response, Morgan Stanley reiterated its 'equal-weight' stance and said the shares look reasonably valued.
And British Airways eased 3-3/4 to 394 following weekend press speculation that passengers could face a fresh surcharge on tickets to pay for the escalating price of airport security.
The move is seen as an alternative to taxpayers footing the bill or the airline industry paying the tens of mlns of pounds needed for more security staff, training and upgraded equipment, yesterday's Observer said.
Rentokil was also under pressure, weighed down by cautious comments from Citigroup ahead of the group's second-quarter results on Thursday.
The US broker reiterated its 'sell' recommendation and 135 pence target ahead of the results, saying it expects organic growth to come in below 1 pct in the second quarter, which it feels will weigh on the share price. Rentokil shares eased 2-1/4 pence to 159-3/4.
On the second line, LogicaCMG fell 12-3/4 to 160-1/4 after the computer services group announced a cash and share offer to buy WM-data for around 882 mln stg.
Petercam put its 'hold' rating under review, saying while the strategic rationale for the buy looks "sound", the price offered seemed very steep.
Elsewhere, MFI Furniture edged lower, down 2-1/4 pence at 86-3/4 pence, following cautious comment from Credit Suisse, which trimmed its price target to 78 pence from 85 pence.
Credit Suisse said the recent weakness in MFI shares has been due to the absence of more positive updates regarding the disposal of the group's Retail division.
German shares close lower on Wall Street losses, profit-taking
At the close, the DAX 30 index was 22.19 points or 0.38 pct lower at 5,794.83, having moved between 5,771.93 and 5,817.09 in today's session. The MDAX was at 8,078.63, down 52.23 points or 0.64 pct, while the TecDAX was at 653.46, down 7.07 points or 1.07 pct.|
The DAX futures contract was at 5,809.00, down 43.00 points, while bund futures were at 117.30, up 0.31 points.
MAN led large-caps lower, sliding 1.09 eur or 1.79 pct to 59.72, while ThyssenKrupp fell 0.42 eur to 26.40, making it the second-worst performer.
Continental AG dropped 0.61 to 80.29, as investors worried about the impact on the German firm of a production halt at US automaker Ford, which said it would temporarily halt production at 10 assembly plants between now and the end of the year.
DaimlerChrysler was down 0.35 at 41.06, though off earlier lows, having fallen more than 2 pct. Peers Volkswagen and BMW eased 0.39 to 63.44 and 0.36 to 39.79 respectively.
Bucking the trend, Deutsche Telekom added 0.14 eur or 1.24 pct to 11.44 as dealers said that news the European Commission has endorsed a proposal by the German telecoms regulator to give new market entrants access to Deutsche Telekom's broadband networks was no surprise.
Deutsche Boerse gained 0.25 to 116.25.
Lufthansa slightly outperformed the overall market - down 0.04 eur or 0.27 pct at 14.77 - after Boersen-Zeitung newspaper reported that the German flag carrier has agreed in principle to sell its 50 pct stake in the company's joint venture Thomas Cook with KarstadtQuelle to the retailer.
KarstadtQuelle eased 0.41 to 15.82 on the MDAX. However, it was Vivacon that was the worst performer among the mid-caps, slipping 0.63 eur or 3.16 pct to 19.33.
Meanwhile, Hochtief rose 0.57 eur or 1.33 pct to 43.33.
Merck KGaA gained 0.34 to 75.77, after the Financial Times Deutschland reported that it, and not Deutsche Postbank as widely expected by market participants, is the favourite for inclusion on the DAX 30 index when changes to its composition are decided in September.
Postbank was down 0.73 at 59.89.
Paris shares close lower, tracking Wall St amid oil price upturn
The CAC-40 index finished down 31.04 points or 0.6 pct at 5,104.65. Volume for the day was subdued at 2.7 bln eur, as many market participants are still away from their desks for summer holidays.|
Among CAC-40 stocks, 10 closed higher, 28 closed lower and Vivendi ended unchanged at 26.90. Arcelor has been deleted from the index following its takeover by Mittal Steel, and no replacement has yet been named. On the Matif, September CAC-40 futures were trading off 29 at 5,116.5.
Concerns over tensions in the Middle East, coupled with the ongoing uncertainty about the outlook for US growth and interest rates, weighed on sentiment today, dealers said.
As a result, investors took some money off the equity table after last week's rebound, which saw the CAC-40 index climb 3 pct on the week.
EADS posted the sharpest blue chip declines, down 0.43 eur or 1.9 pct at 22.77. The company's earnings are susceptible to pressure from the strong euro, which makes its Airbus planes and other products more expensive for customers outside the euro zone.
Sanofi-Aventis fell 1.20 or 1.7 pct to 69.50 as investors await the US New York court ruling on its request for an injunction blocking the sale of generic Plavix by Canada's Apotex.
Suez ended off 0.27 at 32.68 and Gaz de France was 0.21 lower at 28.60 as investors anticipate that asset sales will be necessary to secure EU Commission approval of their merger project, after the commission issued preliminary findings that said the merger would distort market competition in its present form.
Accor fell 0.36 of 0.8 pct to 46.54, having fallen by 2.7 pct for a short period this afternoon after rumours circulated that the hotels group was guiding down 2006 earnings estimates, following an analyst note that suggested the adjustment was necessary to account for Accor's sale of a 50 pct stake in travel agency Carlson Wagonlit Travel earlier this year.
However, a company spokesman later clarified that it had already told analysts in July that the sale would cut about 35 mln eur from 2006 pretax profits, against a consensus estimate of 720 mln eur, and confirmed that no new guidance was being issued today.
Index heavyweight Total bucked the downtrend, rising 0.40 or 0.8 pct to 53.35 as crude prices posted fresh gains after retreating last week. Elsewhere in the oil sectors, Geophysique was up 0.70 at 131.60 and Technip climbed 0.61 to 43.76.
For the broader indices, the SBF-80 index closed 13.10 lower at 5,652.85 and the SBF-120 fell 19.88 to 3,684.64.
Amsterdam shares close down on Wall St falls, oil; LogicaCMG down heavily
The AEX closed 0.96 points or 0.21 pct lower at 462.96, after trading in the range 461.67-464.22. Government bonds traded broadly higher, while the euro stood at 1.2914 usd, up from 1.2825 usd late Friday.|
LogicaCMG was the session's heaviest faller, down 7.06 pct to 2.37 eur after the computer services company said it has offered to buy Nordic rival WM-data for 882 mln stg (11.9 bln skr) in cash and new shares, which analysts consider to be expensive. Rabo Securities downgraded the stock to 'hold' from 'buy', and lowered its price target to 2.60 eur from 3.30.
Pharming fell 4.02 pct to 3.58 and DSM shed 0.90 pct to 29.59, hurt by falling Sanofi shares as the group awaits a court ruling regarding the Plavix generics challenge in the US, expected midweek.
Staffing stocks were down, with Vedior off 1.05 pct to 14.10, USG People losing 2.15 pct to 52.25 eur, and Randstad off 0.31 pct to 41.52.
Philips was 0.83 pct lower at 26.22 eur, while ASML lost 0.85 pct to 16.34 eur. Peer ASMI was 1.55 pct down at 13.37 eur.
Among financials, Aegon was off 0.94 pct to 13.75, ABN Amro was lower 0.14 pct to 21.52 and Fortis was down 0.13 pct at 30.10. ING was 0.39 pct lower at 32.95. Earlier, Credit Suisse upped its price target on the bancassurer to 37.0 eur from 36.0.
Oil and oil-services stocks led gainers, with SBM Offshore lifting 1.38 pct to 21.37 eur and Shell moving 1.08 pct higher to 27.96 on higher crude prices.
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