European Stocks Finish Higher
From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope
In Germany, the Xetra-Dax index ended a choppy session higher, with Wall Street clocking up solid gains after crude inventory data provided some cheer. The quarterly earnings season continued apace in Germany with DaimlerChrysler (+1.77%) reporting third-quarter operating profit up 38% to €1.84 billion, beating forecasts as profit at Mercedes rose 43%. Net profit fell to €755 million from €951 million, but sales were up 9% to €38.2 billion, also beating market forecasts.
Siemens (+0.43%) said talks with Legrand are "no longer a topic" as the French group is seeking a stock listing instead of a takeout. Bayer (-0.52%) disclosed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson on the development of, and licence deal on, its thrombosis drug. Meanwhile, Bayer may sell its anti-infective research unit either this year or early next year, reported FTD. Germany is selling its stake in Fraport (-0.25%). The government will sell 10.6 million shares in an accelerated bookbuild, two-times oversubscribed, and an additional 6 million shares through a call option. The free float will rise to 41.3%.
In Britain, the FTSE 100 index ended Wednesday's session comfortably higher, as Wall Street traded cautiously on positive ground. Rising crude oil prices and disappointing earnings from Boeing (BA ) weighed on major indices. At home, mining and oil stocks led the advance. Anglo American (+6.08%) rallied, on news of a U.S. $1 billion capital return. The group announced it will further rationalise and simplify its portfolio and structure and increase focus on controlled mining businesses. Antofagasta (-0.55%) said production rose 6.9% in third quarter, but costs were also higher.
In the banking sector, Prudential (-1.96%) released in line 9-month figures and confirmed it is to retain online banking group Egg (-2.24%). The insurer unveiled its strategy focusing on organic growth in the U.S., Asia and the UK. Holiday group First Choice (+8.5%) said trading has been in line and it continues to progress towards its 5% operating margin target. Among smaller stocks, Cambridge Antibody (+3.7%) soared after announcing it had reached a settlement with Abbott regarding royalties for its drug Humira.
In France, the CAC 40 (+0.36%) picked up tempo at the close, trading on a positive breadth of 20-19. Investors concentrated on domestic earnings reports. STM (+1.09%) closed on positive ground after disclosing third-quarter revenues of U.S. $2.247 billion, although net income fell 52.9%. The chipmaker said the third-quarter performance was in line with its outlook and showed sequential improvements. Air Liquide (-0.54%) posted third-quarter sales up 8.9% as it experiences increased demand for hydrogen, used for removing sulphur from fuel.
Other weak reports hurt the index. Saint Gobain (-0.59%) was hit after trimming fiscal year guidance on higher energy costs. Gemplus (-3.59%) was marked lower after cutting its organic growth target to less than 10% as phone and scratch card sales decrease faster than expected. Media groups slid amid a soft advertising market. JC Decaux (-2.47%) tabled weaker-than-expected third-quarter sales of €393.9 million, PagesJaunes (-1.86%) reported third-quarter sales up 2% to €292.6 million, and NRJ (-0.69%) posted fiscal year revenue up 1.8% to €331.3 million. Investors are keeping an eye on Casino (-0.61%), Renault (+0.77%) and Accor (-0.15%), which deliver third-quarter sales today after the close.
Prepared by European MarketScope reporters Zaida Espana (France), Michael Sanderson (Germany), Mariella Mongio (Italy), Alexander Wisch (Netherlands), Holly Cook (Nordic), Emma Stevenson (Spain), Pawan Girglani (Switzerland), and Rocio Opazo-Aniotz (UK)