Markets & Finance

World Equity Prices Mixed


European stock markets edged lower in light trading on Friday, as investors sold for profits and worried about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the global economy.

In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index slipped 1.70 points to 5326.80 on profit taking.

Among stocks moving, J.D. Wetherspoon lost ground on a report that its six months net income fell. Some stocks bucked the generally downward trend. For example, the BOC Group rose on a newspaper report that Germany's BASF might make an offer for the company. Diageo also rose after Merrill Lynch raised its recommendation on the stock to neutral from sell. Empire Online rose after the company said it had been approached about a takeover.

In Frankfurt, the DAX Index lost 5.13 points to 4837.81 on profit taking.

Stocks that do business in the U.S. fell, such as DaimlerChrysler and Adidas-Salomon. Deutsche Post fell amid reports it might pay about 3.8 billion pounds to buy the U.K.'s Exel Plc. Solarworld rose after the company said it secured supplies of silicon to produce solar cells in a 10-year agreement with U.S.-based Hemlock Semiconductor.

In Paris, the CAC 40 fell 19.20 points to 4404.95 on profit taking.

Among heavyweights in the index, L'Oreal fell after it said its first half net income of 892 million euros missed the 918 million analysts predicted. But Air France-KLM rose after the carrier forecast higher full year earnings. In another exception to the general trend, Dassault Systemmes rose after SG Securities raised its rating on the stock to buy from hold.

Companies headquartered on the other side of the world closed higher. The Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 93.03 points (0.74%) to 12,600.

Seven & I, the owner of Seven-Eleven Japan, soared 4.8% after it offered $1 billion to take 7-Eleven Inc. private, saying the investment needed for renovations could slow growth and pose risks for minority investors. Seven & I offered to pay $32.5 a share, a 15% premium over 7-Eleven's closing price Thursday.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 78.14 points (0.52%) to 15,221.98. Leading percentage gainers were Esprit (+2.9%), Sino Land (+2.8%) and Sun Hung Kai Properties (+2.3%), whereas the top laggard was PCCW (-1.9%). Weak economic data in the U.S., combined with Hurricane Katrina's damage, prompted speculation that the Fed will stop raising interest rates soon.


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