European Indexes Slump

Markets ended solidly in the red amid a downturn on Wall Street

London: The FTSE 100 closed in the red Friday, hit by a slump on Wall Street. Equities were battered by disappointing figures from Google and Caterpillar, profit-taking and a 27bps interest rate hike by China. The US$ hit a 12-year low vs a basket of currencies on US subprime woes. Copper futures hit an 11-week high supported by strong demand after solid Chinese growth in 2Q. In the sector, BHP Billiton (-0.93%) will not be making a bid for US aluminum giant Alcoa, according to The Australian newspaper. Among individual gainers, Friends Provident (+4.03%) jumped on talk of bid interest from French insurer AXA and rumours of broker upgrade. Johnson Matthey (-0.98%) received a Citigroup target upgrade to GBP20 from GBP18. In M&A news, Delta Two, the Qatari investment fund, said it was considering a GBP6/sh bid for Sainsbury (+0.08%). Vodafone (-0.86%) CEO Arun Sarin pledged to release value from the US$50bn US j/v, Verizon Wireless, The Times wrote. Baugur confirmed it has no current intention to make an offer for Debenhams (-4.33%). In other news, Man Group (+0.08%) CEO Peter Clarke blamed investor fears of a credit crunch for its decision to cut as much as US$900m from the price of MF Global, the brokerage unit that it floated in New York yesterday, The Times reported.

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