From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope
European indexes ended the first trading day of 2007 in the black. Still, volumes were on the thin side as many investors were still away and US markets were closed. Asian bourses were higher, inspired by Wal-Mart (WMT). The US retail giant said December sales were up 1.6%, the biggest increase since August.
UK: The FTSE 100 index ended on a high note on the first trading day of 2007. The index started in good spirits, powered ahead by banking stocks, oil groups and miners. In the UK, retailers were also in play, with Next (+2.33%) set to report on Thursday.
In the FTSE, Vodafone (VOD) (+1.59%) provided good cheer as the latest press reports suggested that the UK group might be able to avoid a bidding war for India's Hutchison Essar. Amvescap (+1.26%) continued to rise on expectations of a possible bid for it after it failed to secure Putnam Investments.
Tata may raise its bid for Corus (CGA) (+1.32%) by 10%, the Business Standard reported. Thomas Cook appointed Citigroup to advise it on a £500 million bid for First Choice (+0.96%). Cairn Energy (+0.61%) allotted Indian shares ahead of a flotation next week. ICI (+2.05%) and Scottish & Southern Energy (+2.57%) rose as investors selected likely takeover candidates this year.
France: The CAC 40 index (+1.37%) closed in fine fettle with 12-1 positive breadth. Suez (SZE) (+1.71%) gained after billionaire Francois Pinault said no decision had been made on a bid for Suez and all options remained open.
Credit Agricole (+2.51%) was guaranteed to raise the €4 billion it's seeking through the sale of new shares after its regional units pledged to buy the stock, La Tribune wrote. PSA's (+2.19%%) Chinese joint venture sold 40% more cars in 2006 as it introduced more models in the Chinese market.
Retailers like Carrefour (+0.89%) and Casino (+1.42%) were able to promote their wares on television since yesterday. Vallourec (+0.82%) bought Timet's 43.7% stake in a joint venture for US$75 million, lifting its share in Valtimet to 95%. Sanofi's (SNY) (+0.93%) CEO has attacked generic drug manufacturers from the developing world for failing to focus on making medicines affordable in their own countries, the FT reported.
Germany: The Xetra-Dax index (+1.28%) ended firmly higher. Metro (+5.69%) closed as leading Dax riser. The main push was market talk of the Haniel family making a full bid for the retailer. But retail investors were also upbeat after Wal-Mart's good news on sales.
In other news, DaimlerChrysler (DCX) (+1.71%) reached an agreement with eight insurance companies in a suit it had filed to recover costs for settling a US class-action lawsuit in 2003, according to the FTD. It will receive some €168 million, almost the full amount it was seeking. VW (-1.15%) was one of the two fallers on the Dax as brand group chief Wolfgang Bernhard was poised to leave Europe's No. 1 car maker over a planned management shake-up, according to the WSJ.
BMW (+0.67%) CEO Norbert Reithofer reiterated in Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the luxury car maker aims to sell 1.6 million cars in 2010, up from 1.3 million units in 2005. Dresdner Bank aims to grow faster than the market, the Allianz (AZ) (+1.12%) unit's CEO told FAZ. Karstadt's (-0.09%) Thomas Cook appointed Citigroup to advise it on a £500 million bid for the UK's First Choice Holiday, reported The Times.
Elsewhere: The AEX index closed its first trading day of 2007 comfortably in the black, crossing the 500 points mark and pushing through its 4-year record high.
In Italy, Piazza Affari closed the trading session with considerable gains with Parmalat (+3.99%) and Alitalia (+3.34%) in focus.