European stocks end lower

  • Business
  • Thursday, 21 Apr 2005

LONDON (AP) - European stocks ended down Wednesday as higher-than-expected U.S. core consumer price inflation dented investor confidence, although Intel's sales surge gave Continental technology companies a boost and cushioned the losses. 

Germany's benchmark DAX-30 index dropped 27 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,177, while the French CAC 40 declined 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,950.  

London's FTSE 100 index slipped 33 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,818.8 as banks, telecoms, pharmaceuticals and insurers lost favor. 

Share in the European industrial sectors gained early after Chinese government data showed a 9.5 percent rise in first-quarter gross domestic product, beating economists' expectations even as other data show the government's cooling steps are having some effect. 

Intel bolstered the Continental chip sector, in particular Dutch equipment maker ASML, which rose 2 percent. German memory chipmaker Infineon Technologies added 0.9 percent. 

In a smaller sector move, J.P. Morgan upgraded U.K. semiconductor design group ARM Holdings to overweight from neutral, citing the group's solid start to the year and early benefits from the recent merger with Artisan. 

Deutsche Bank also upgraded ARM to hold from sell, saying the recent retrenchment in the share price leaves the stock potentially less exposed to likely negative consensus estimate trends. ARM shares added 2.1 percent in London. 

Dutch bank ABN Amro said it has agreed to sell its Dutch private bank Nachenius, Tjeenk & Co. NV, to BNP Paribas. 

No terms were announced.  

BNP shares fell 1.2 percent, while ABN Amro declined 1.1 percent. 

Abbey National, a U.K. bank recently acquired by Spain's Banco Santander Central Hispano, is preparing to sell about 1 billion pounds of commercial property assets to cash in on strong demand for real estate, the Times (of London) reported Wednesday. 

The sale will provide an opportunity for an investor to place the assets into a real estate investment trust structure if the vehicles are introduced next year, noted analysts at J.P. Morgan. Santander shares fell 0.7 percent in Madrid. 

The U.K.'s second largest bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, dipped 0.8 percent. It continues to see good growth in the U.K. and overseas, noting its U.S. businesses are "performing well.'' 

Elsewhere, German luxury retailer Hugo Boss shares rocketed 6 percent in German trading after reporting a 14 percent sales rise in the first quarter to euro406 million (US$531 million), helped by 37 percent growth from its Boss Woman line.  

Net profit rose 17 percent to euro52 million (US$68 million). For the year, Hugo Boss sees profit rising 14 percent to euro100 million (US$131 million) with currency-adjusted sales up 10 percent. - AP 

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