News Column

Eurozone stands still but shares climb up

August 15, 2014

LONDON

The recovery of the eurozone's major economies of France and Germany ground to a halt, but this failed to prevent the region's stock markets from rising.

The FTSE 100 Index was 28.6 points higher at 6685.3, while the Dax in Frankfurt and Cac 40 were also higher despite the worse-than- expected GDP figures from the beleaguered eurozone economy.

Traders were betting the downbeat data would shorten the odds of a move by the European Central Bank to shore up the economy via an asset-purchase programme, which would drive up share prices.

Markets had been expecting the 18-nation bloc to post 0.1 per cent growth but instead it was recorded as 0 per cent, following a 0.2 per cent improvement in the previous period.

Germany shrank by 0.2 per cent, slightly worse than feared, as its trade balance deteriorated, following growth of 0.7 per cent in the first quarter.

France posted zero expansion for the second successive quarter, as its finance minister immediately halved its growth forecast for the year to 0.5 per cent.

The lacklustre performance is a major concern for investors in London after Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned that the eurozone - Britain's biggest trading partner - was a key challenge facing the UK.

The pound reflected these concerns as sterling remained at a four- month low against the US dollar, at 1.67, having fallen yesterday on the back of signals from the Bank that interest rates will remain on hold for the rest of this year. Sterling was also down against the euro, at 1.25.

TUI Travel was a strong riser on the FTSE 100 risers board after its German parent company reported a jump in third quarter profits and said it was in a good position to exceed earnings guidance for the full year.

The update came as TUI AG continues its work on plans to fully consolidate its UK business, which trades as First Choice and Thomson. Shares in TUI Travel rose 7.8p to 369.7p. Property firms also did well as British Land rose 17.5p to 724.5p and Land Securities lifted 24p to 1090p.

Outside the top flight, shares in Balfour Beatty and Carillion were both higher as the two sides continued to clash over the latter's pound(s)3 billion merger plan.

Carillion stepped up the pressure on Balfour's board, offering an additional 8.5p a share dividend to investors and promising pound(s)175 million a year in cost savings from the combination by 2016.

Carillion shares rose eight per cent, or 26.8p to 346.8p, after it also presented half-year results showing a five per cent rise in profits to pound(s)67.5m. Balfour shares were 3.6p higher at 240.1p.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Petrofac up 35p at 1144p, British Land, Johnson Matthey up 68p at 3082p and Land Securities.

The biggest fallers were Admiral down 41p at 1330p, G4S down 6.9p at 266.6p, Kingfisher down 5.6p at 295.7p and Rio Tinto down 47.5p at 3376p.


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Source: Herald, The (Scotland)


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