Markets & Finance

European Indexes Close Flat


From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

European indexes closed flat Tuesday as stocks traded slightly lower in New York. Investors awaited the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's November 1 meeting (19:00 GMT). Meanwhile, oil prices ticked higher, with WTI trading at US$58.60/bbl on news that forecasters expected severe weather to hit the US before Thursday.

France:The CAC 40 index closed down just 6 points with a negative breadth 29-11. Investors weighed mixed signals, including a weak euro and the effect on corporate profits of a renewed strength in oil price. Index heavyweight Total (TOT)(+1.73%) rose in the wake of oil prices, as weather forecasters predicted a cold snap in the northern hemisphere. Locally, EdF (-2.97%) closed at the day's low amid talk that underwriters had stopped supporting the stock. French consumer spending data for October showed a fall for the second consecutive month, down 0.6%. It dragged Carrefour (-0.27%) lower. The group also said a two-year restructuring plan will cost 1,700 jobs in France.

A broker upgrade to a buy rating powered Thomson (+2.89%) higher. Air France-KLM (AKH)(+1.73%) did not comment on the news that it would suscribe to the Alitalia rights issue; the French airline reports first half results Wednesday morning. Rhodia (-1.82%) narrowed its intraday losses, recorded on news that it is launching a €604 million capital increase. STM (STM)(-0.81%) was marked down after peers Toshiba and Samsung fell on fears US chipmakers entering the flash memory cards market might increase competition. Broadcaster TF1 (-0.19%) reports nine months results after the Tuesday close. Infogrames (-1.40%) will roll out its figures before the Wednesday open.

United Kingdom:The FTSE 100 closed a touch higher today, rising 0.35% to 5517.2 as oil majors offset early weakness on Wall Street. BP (BP) rose 1.53% and Shell (RDS) by 1.26%. PartyGaming surged 7.07% after pulling out of takeover talks for Empire Online. But on the downside Scottish Power (SPI) slid 5.45%, after it ended takeover talks with German bidder E.On. Enterprise Inns closed up 2.89% after it reported fiscal year numbers in line with forecasts and announced a £200 million share buyback.

Despite the high oil price, budget carrier easyJet soared 10.93% after fiscal year pretax profit beat market consensus. The group forecast mid to high single-digit percentage profit growth. Stanley Leisure rose 3.14% after it said overall performance was in line in the first half and it expects to recover much of the business lost. Hilton Group (+1.41%) ended higher after it sold 15 UK hotels for £382.40 million.

Germany: The Xetra Dax ended flat after a directionless day, In Frankfurt, the index received support from utilities, in particular E.On (EON)(+2.8%) after it ended talks with Scottish Power (SPI)regarding a takeover. Furthermore, Commerzbank upped its target on the energy provider. RWE (+0.84%) was also among the top gainers after UBS lifted its price target on the stock. Eyes were fixed on the IPO of Metro's (-0.38%) home improvement unit Praktiker. The shares ended their first trading day 3.79% higher than the listing price of €14.50. Note, however, that Metro reduced the issue price from initial hopes of a €16.0 - €19.0 listing. Despite the fresh funds secured by Metro, Moody's Investors Service cut its long-term senior unsecured rating on the retailer to Baa2 from Baa1, citing a weak third quarter.

DaimlerChrysler (DCX)(-2.54%), fell after yesterday's 1.92% surge, as Deutsche Bank sold 25 million shares to institutional investors. Infineon (-1.77%) took a few steps back following a deal between Intel and Micron to produce flash memory chips. This signalled more competition in the sector and downward pressure on prices. Finally, EM.TV (-5.39%) slid as its third quarter loss widened to €4.6 million from €2.5 million.

Elsewhere: The Spanish Ibex 35 index was little changed. National authorities could unravel Gas Natural's (-0.57%) bid for Endesa (-0.56%) if they reject a key part of the offer, the FT reported. Prepared by Zaida Espana, Valerie Vidal, Michael Sanderson, Mariella Mongio, Alexander Wisch, Holly Cook, Emma Stevenson, Pawan Girglani, Julien Manrique, and Rocio Opazo-Aniotz (Standard & Poor's); Alex Halperin (BusinessWeek Online)


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