European Indexes End Lower

U.S. equity weakness and rising oil prices weighed on markets

Major European stock indexes finished lower in Wednesday's session. A number of factors weighed on sentiment: Wall Street's mixed session Wednesday, and a decline in marquee tech name Apple (AAPL ) after its strong quarterly results released after Tuesday's U.S. close failed to meet analysts' lofty expectations.

Germany's Xetra-Dax index ended lower on Wednesday. Among German stocks on the move, Schering (SHR ) (-3.87%) is halting late-stage trials of its asoprisnil uterine fibroid treatment following adverse effects on some patients. US-based Third Wave Technologies has filed a suit against Bayer (BAY ) (-1.78%), seeking the right to sell hepatitis C virus products. Metro (+0.49%) says it has no interest in buying Kingfisher, nor is it in talks about selling its Praktiker DIY unit to the U.K. group.

E.on (-1.55%) may have to pay between £12 billion and £13 billion to land a takeover recommendation from Scottish Power's directors, reports The Independent. VW (-1.46%) will build a new model in its Emden plant, having agreed with staff on annual savings of around €80 million. TUI (-1.54%) is expected to win EU approval for its acquisition of CP Ships on Wednesday, a decision which had been extended by two weeks. Deutsche Boerse's (+0.21%) derivatives unit, Eurex, has received recognized market operator status in Singapore. At an analysts' meeting, Adidas (-1.92%) said it is sticking to its 2005 net income growth and sales targets. AWD (-4.01%) remained under pressure, with the company's board revealing its concern over fourth quarter business, expecting it to be worse than the year-ago period.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 index ended lower on Wednesday, as Wall Street retreated after a positive start. Banks were among the laggards on the session, dragged down by bearish comments from brokerage analysts. ABN Amro reiterated its underweight stance on UK banks and CSFB said it expected material earnings downgrades across the retail banking sector. Prudential (PUK ) (-0.6%) is said to intend to retain its 79% stake in internet bank Egg (-3.79%).

Retailers were also in the London spotlight. GUS (+1.34%) gained, lifted by a solid performance from Experian. The group noted challenging UK retail conditions. Burberry (-7.10%) unveiled a 1% drop in wholesale revenues in the first half and warned there could be a moderate underlying wholesale sales decline in the fiscal year.

SAB Miller (-2.17%) says lager volumes rose 5% in the first half, but brokers note results from Miller were lower than expected. Sportingbet (+9.41%) says the average daily rake at its Poker business in the first 10 weeks of the financial year rose 71%, lifting the gaming sector. Mining group Xstrata (-2.88%) was hurt by a Deutsche Bank downgrade following Inco's (N ) agreed bid for Falconbridge (FAL ).

The CAC40 index in France finished in the red, with breadth 34-6 negative. Sanofi (SNY ) (-1.8%) and Total (TOT ) (-0.7%) pulled back, trimming 13 points off the index. Tech stocks such as STM (STM ) (-1.81%) were weaker, on lower DRAM prices.

BNP (-0.47%) is understood to have bought a 19.2% stake in Nanjing City Commercial Bank for 704 million yuan, or US$87 million.

Property group Mercialys rose over 16% as it started trading Wednesday. Shares in Casino's (-0.84%) property spin-off were heavily oversubscribed at an offer price of €18.13 per share.

Meanwhile, the quarterly sales and earnings season got underway. Safran (-7.51%) fell after first half operating results missed estimates, though its attributable net profit beat forecasts. S&P Equity Research downgraded the shares to hold from buy. After Wednesday's close, sales are expected from Carrefour (-0.05%) and Ingenico (-1.23%).

Elsewhere, Switzerland's SMI index and Italy's Piazza Affari index each ended lower Wednesday.

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