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European Indexes Close Higher

Boosted by Wall Street European indexes recorded slight gains Friday

From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope

European indexes recovered Friday afternoon to close narrowly in the black mirroring Wall Street.

UK: The FTSE 100 index stayed higher (+0.28%) at the close. Weak commodity prices hit mining stocks, while pharmas slipped after Goldman Sachs downgraded the sector view to neutral from attractive.

France: The CAC 40 index (+0.25%) also climbed. EADS reported 2006 revenues of €39.4 billion, in line with expectations, with net profit at €99 million. It predicts a 'substantial' loss for Airbus in 2007.

Conversely, Thales saw its 2006 earnings top expectations with operating profit coming in 4.5% higher year-over-year at €755 million. It is proposing a dividend hike of 5% to €0.87 per share. Elsewhere, Carrefour indicated that it could be willing to sell some of its property portfolio, the FT reported.

Pernod Ricard said it could afford to buy both the Absolut and Stolichnaya vodka brands, the FT reported. Both Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers cut their targets following 'disappointing' results. In broker news, PPR received a flurry of target increases from the likes of Deutsche Bank, UBS and SocGen. Cheuvreux initiated Energies Nouvelles with an outperform and €48 target.

Germany: The Xetra-Dax index (+0.05%) recovered to close flat. VW forecasted at least €5.1 billion in pretax profit in 2008, and reaffirmed that it sees at least 9% return on investment at its core automotive unit in the medium term. The car giant added that it wants to cut a further 5,000 jobs by 2009.

Canada's Magna International is, according to the WSJ's website, the next potential buyer to visit DCX's (DCX) Chrysler unit. Stada Arznei is eyeing Merck KGaA's generics business, and is understood to be interested in taking part in the first round of bidding. SAP (SAP) said a new business software product for smaller companies will be available later in the year to allow for more testing.

Conergy, Germany's largest solar power company, has placed almost 3 million shares, equal to some 10% of its share capital, to fund increased production. Proceeds were around €150 million. Key on the broker front, Citigroup upgraded Krones to buy from hold, lifting the target to €150 from €105. Goldman Sachs's upgrade of Epcos to buy supported the electronic components maker. The broker said Epcos looks attractively valued in the context of a structurally improving margin profile.

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