Markets & Finance

Europe and Asia Close Mixed


European stock markets were mixed on Thursday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 gained 9.80 points, or 0.21%, to close at 4728.30. Shares edged higher as Wall Street continued to trade mixed as hype from the U.S. elections dissipated. The Bank of England's announcement today that interest rates would remain unchanged was widely expected. Among companies reporting, Man Group disappointed, despite reporting first-half net income was up 21% and saying it is confident of significant growth in underlying earnings for the year. Scottish & Southern said first-half net income grew by 11.3%, slightly ahead of expectations. Shire Pharma reported a 22% rise in third-quarter revenues with sales of Adderall moving up 16%. Smith & Nephew jumped 10.25% after reporting a 15% rise in third-quarter net income and said it expects strong growth in the fourth quarter with market fundamentals continuing to be favourable.

In Germany, the DAX gained 2.34 points, or 0.06%, to close at 4041.38, after a plethora of corporate earnings and disappointing factory orders did little to generate fresh impetus. With the US election now out of the equation, traders have returned their focus to oil and third-quarter results. Tui lost ground after WestLB said it is waiting until next year before offloading its 30% stake in the travel agent. Lufthansa was weaker on the perception that oil prices are likely to remain higher under a Bush presidency. A severe downgrade from semiconductor research group IDC hurt Infineon and SAP. Global sales of semiconductors is predicted to shrink as oversupply drives down prices. On the positive front, Altana posted better-than-expected results showing third-quarter earnings rose 34% to 105 million euro, up from 78 million euro and beating forecasts of 90 million euro. HVB also posted numbers this morning but the results came in at the lower end of expectations with the company saying it is unlikely to reach full-year targets. Aixtron dropped 4.2% after cutting full-year sales guidance to 125 million euro from 140 million euro. Deutsche Post gained 0.8% even though it said third-quarter profit declined 23% to 169 million euro from 219 million euro last year. It reiterated its forecasts for an increase of 13% for full-year EBITA. Hugo Boss rose 2.4% after better-than-expected results from Boss Woman brand.

In France, the CAC-40 lost 7.48 points, or 0.20%, to close at 3762.45. The CAC40 ended Thursday's session lower, but off intraday lows as Wall Street notched up modest gains in early trading. However, the mood was sombre, in contrast to yesterday's rally on Bush's re-election, as the markets returned to fundamentals. Banks beat a retreat after BNP-Paribas disclosed poor quality third-quarter profitability, with net income growth of 13.5% fuelled by lower loan-loss provisions. SocGen and Dexia shed 0.63% and 0.12%, respectively. Suez dropped 1.02% after CSFB downgraded the stock to underperform with a 16.70 euro target. On the plus side, Total rose 0.91%, as Deutsche Bank reiterated its top pick status. EADS ended just positive after reporting estimate-beating figures, and lifted fiscal-year guidance. The group said it would have to seek extra cost savings if the euro remained above $1.25 for an extended period of time. Pernod Ricard was fuelled by positive broker comments and a number of price target upgrades this morning, after the group showed strong 9M growth.

Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday following the re-election of U.S. President George W. Bush. Japan's Nikkei gained 58.46 points, or 0.54%, to end at 10,946.27. Japanese exporters Toyota Motor and Honda Motor gained 1.73% and 0.58%, respectively, due to eased concerns about U.S. trade and currency policy change following the presidential election in the U.S. Shares of Furukawa Electric, Japan's No.1 fiber optic cable maker, soared 10.77%, helped by a Nihon Keizai report revealing a massive capital spending plan by its client NTT Corp.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng lost 28.58 points, or 0.21%, to close at 13,369.09.

Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P gained 25.26 points, or 0.29%, to close at 8,866.61.


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