Markets & Finance

Europe Lower, Asia Mixed


European stock markets closed lower on Friday as the dollar rebounded from lows and oil hit a 12 week low. Wall Street traded higher, as news from Intel sparked interest in chipmakers by raising its fourth-quarter revenue forecast. There was solid ISM data, however, a disappointing November non-farm payrolls act as a drag - the data came in weaker than expected at 112,000, vs. 180,000 forecast and the previous month's reading of 337,000.

In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 lost 3.30 points, or 0.07%, to close at 4747.90. Key UK tech stocks, including Dimension Data and Arm Holdings, reacted positively. The mining sector pulled the index south after UBS this morning cut its targets on Rio Tinto and Anglo American. Among companies reporting, brewer Wolverhampton & Dudley planned to buy the Burtonwood Brewery for 119 million pounds adding its fiscal pretax profits rose 6.3% to 77.7 million pounds, in line with forecasts. Enterprise Inns led the FTSE 100, up 4.52%. Meanwhile, pubs group Punch Taverns yesterday called time at 545 of the pubs it recently acquired as part of the InnSpired portfolio, selling them for 162.5 million pounds, the Financial Times reports. Telco giant BT said it would buy the remaining 74% it does not already own in Italian phone company Albacom for a minimum price of 80 million pounds. Finally, Cendant, the world's largest travel group, yesterday made an agreed all-cash bid for Ebookers.com worth 209 million pounds.

In Germany, the DAX lost 7.53 pints, or 0.18%, to close at 4208.87. Infineon received a fillip from Intel, which raised fourth-quarter forecasts after saying it saw a surprising pick-up in demand over the past couple of months. Thyssen plans to sell its works apartments for around 1.4 billion euro before the end of March. Analysts, with an eye on the recent sale by WCM of its property portfolio for a much higher sum, think Thyssen may be asking too little for the properties that bear similarities to those sold by WCM.

France's CAC-40 lost 27.94 points, or 0.73%, to close at 3783.51. The CAC40 ended lower on Friday, falling back below the 3,800 level, as shares lost their footing in afternoon trading. At home, STM managed to hold its head above water, lifted by Intel, although news that France Telecom sold a 3.3% stake in the group knocked the stock off highs. Sanofi dipped 0.7% as it awaits the go-ahead to sell its flu vaccine in the U.S., to fill the gap on U.S. shortages. On the broker front, CSFB reduced its target for Renault to 68 euro from 70 euro with a neutral rating. ABN Amro resumed coverage of Publicis with a 27.10 euro target.

Asian markets ended mixed, with Japan's Nikkei average rising nearly 1% on the back of falling oil prices and stronger-than-expected Japanese capital spending data while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed slightly lower. The benchmark Nikkei average advanced 101.82 points, or 0.93%, to 11074.89, adding to a 1.75% rise seen in the previous day. NEC Corp jumped 6.78% after the company it would pay 83.56 billion yen to absorb NEC Soft and NEC System Technologies. Mitsubishi Motors Corp gained 0.9% on news that the company might receive 100 billion yen in financial aid from Tokyo Financial Group and other Mitsubishi group firms.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index moved rangebound as investors eyed the key U.S. employment data due later today. It slipped 49.95 points, or 0.35%, to close at 14,211.84. CNOOC shares sank after oil prices fell for the second day overnight while Sinotrans plunged on news that UPS would take over most of its international express delivery operations.

Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P gained 17.17 points, or 0.19%, to close at 9,055.66.


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