Markets & Finance

European Indexes Post Broad Gains


Markets bounced back Thursda, spurred by a higher Wall Street and positive company news

London: The FTSE 100 closed strong Thursday, tracking a higher Wall Street and positive company news locally. Crude traded at US$74.88/bbl after an unexpected gasoline draw.

Among company updates, Vodafone (VOD) (+1.76%) reported a 7.5% growth in first quarter revenues helped by emerging markets. The mobile giant beat analyst expectations by adding 9.1 million customers in the quarter. Morrison (+3.33%) delivered a below-expected 3% rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel for the 23 weeks to 15 July, adding that it was on track to meet fiscal targets. However, the shares were underpinned by positive read-across from Sainsbury (+0.25%) and bid talk.

BAE (+4.79%) shares gain altitude after its takeover of Armor Holdings won antitrust nod by the US DoJ and DoD. Insurer Old Mutual (+4.64%) surged after a report that Standard Chartered (-0.77%) was in talks to buy Nedbank. Old Mutual is a majority shareholder in Nedbank. In other news, Barclays (BCS) (-0.21%) said it may include a partial cash element in its offer for ABN Amro. Also according to The Times, ABN Amro may withdraw its backing for Barclays' agreed bid in the face of a superior offer.

Paris: The CAC 40 (+1.16%) closed the session broadly higher while Wall Street also traded in the black. Locally, India's Infosys Technologies is in talks with at least four companies, including Cap Gemini (+3.95%) for a potential acquisition, The Times of India reported. Danone (DA) (+2.42%) gained on news PepsiCo and Nestle had explored a merger this spring but the effort was ultimately scuttled because of myriad complications, the WSJ reported.

Louis Gallois, who is poised to become sole CEO of EADS (+2.07%), gave his backing to the 'golden share' system that could be deployed to give France and Germany a veto over strategic decisions. Arcelor Mittal MT (+1.21%) was granted concessions to develop mining, transportation and logistics activities by the Republic of Senegal.

Renault (+1.38%) hired Stephen Norman, director of global marketing for the Fiat brand since 2005, to do the same job at Renault. Lagardere (+0.72%) is in exclusive talks to sell its regional newspaper business in southern France to Hersant Media Group. Areva (-0.51%) may buy the 37% stake of Eramet (+9.18%) held by the Duval family, Les Echos reported. GFI Informatique (-0.11%) is in talks on a possible tie-up with Bull (+6.00%).

Business Objects' (BOBJ) (+3.48%) German peer SAP posted higher-than-expected results. Traders noted market talk that Italy's Saipem has mandated two banks to look at Technip (+2.45%).

Frankfurt: As Wall Street was trading higher amid upbeat results from IBM, Xetra-Dax (+1.1%) closed positively after yesterday's down day. On the corporate news front, SAP (SAP) (+6.06%) reported second quarter net income of €449 million, higher than expected, on in-line total revenues of €2.42 billion. Confirming its full-year guidance, it said its worldwide share of core enterprise applications vendors was 26% at the end of the quarter. The brokers said the solid interim performance leaves room for speculation that 2007 may surprise on the upside.

Elsewhere, there was talk that Chile-based Empresas Iansa could bid €4.87 billion for Suedzucker (+0.94%). The shares came off earlier highs after the company said it knows nothing of a bid. Private equity group Blackstone may be interested in Continental (+3.39%), according to FAZ.

HeidelbergCement (+0.19%) is close to selling Maxit, according to the FTD. The newspaper noted that the cement group has received bids of around €2 billion for the clay and mortar unit. Premiere's (-3.58%) expectation of up to €1.05 billion in revenues this year was a disappointment to those that followed the broadcaster's stock.

Key on the broker front, Credit Suisse started coverage of Deutz (+6.04%) with outperform and €12 target. Lehman Brothers initiated Fraport (+1.48%) with overweight.


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