European Indexes Gain
In London, the benchmark Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index rebounded Wednesday, Nov. 29 to close strongly in positive territory, helped by a higher Wall Street on an upwardly revised U.S. GDP report. Miners and pharma stocks were among the best performers. Oil traded above US$61 per barrel. The pound touched a two-year high vs the US$ of 1.95. Among commodities, copper was flat, while gold gave up some gains.
Among sectors, pharmaceuticals rose after US outfit Pfizer (PFE) said that it will cut its US sales force by 20% as a part of a cost-cutting program. AstraZeneca (AZN; +2.76%) and Glaxosmithkline (GSK; +3.08%) gained. BAE Systems (+2.65%) flew on news the defense firm has won a US$1.16 billion modifications contract from the US Army.
In earnings news, caterer Compass (+7.10%) reported a 5.5% rise in fiscal year underlying profit, saying that the business was trading as expected overall. Bid target Corus (+0.50%) posted a forecast-beating third quarter EBITDA of £235 million on higher steel prices. Mitchells & Butlers (-0.61%) saw a 10.1% rise in fiscal year pre-tax profit. The pubs group said the new financial year had started well. Building and plumbing products supplier Wolseley (+3.79%) said its first quarter pre-tax profit has been affected by higher interest costs. Accounting and sales software specialist Sage (+6.85%) said fiscal year pre-tax profit rose 14%. In M&A talk, Legal & General (+7.26%) gained on rumours that Aegon (AEG) could be interested.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index managed its first positive close in six sessions Wednesday and it did so with style, up a whopping 1.41%. Credit Agricole (+2.20%) and EDF (+0.47%) signed a partnership agreement to facilitate management and valuations of CO2 quotas for Credit Agricole Regional Banks corporate clients. EDF underperformed amid rumours it could bid for Scottish Power. Sanofi (SNY; +2.76%) gained on news Pfizer will cut 2,000 jobs. SocGen (+0.87%) is seeking acquisitions to enter the retail banking market in China after it lost out to Citigroup in the battle for China's Guangdong Development Bank, La Tribune reported.
EU extended investigations of plans by Thales (+1.40%) to buy stakes in two Alcatel units, considering the transaction may reduce competition for a 'critical' component of telecommunication satellites. Cap Gemini (+1.11%) obtained antitrust clearance to acquire Kanbay. According to Les Echos, Alitalia would prefer a Middle or Far Eastern partner to take a stake rather than Air France-KLM (+4.25%). Morgan Stanley upgraded Rhodia (+3.38%) to overweight from equal-weight.
In Frankfurt, the Dax index managed to break its four-day losing streak Wednesday, carrying a +1.31% sign at the end of the session. M&A talk in the automobiles sector provided a clear booster, as did a higher-than-expected revision of US third quarter GDP data. Most notably, VW (+4.27%) sped ahead due to speculation of consolidation action from Porsche (+3.84%). Porsche denied the talks but the feeling among analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort was that Porsche could significantly lift value in VW and that such a deal is financially viable. Dresdner lifted its price targets on Porsche and VW, as well as upgrading the latter.
More M&A action: Investor AB's CEO reportedly said that a counterbid by Scania for MAN (+5.16%) is possible, and it was mentioned in the media that Scania has indeed secured the financing for such a move.
Other notable Dax gainers included Metro (+2.49%) - Credit Suisse issued a short-term buy this morning, citing possible improving German pre-Christmas sales.
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