Interest rate concerns hit European banks


A mid-afternoon rally sent Frankfurt higher, reversing early losses and pushing the Xetra Dax index up 18.92 at 7,091.04. The low for the session was 6,987.12. Weighed down by talk of an upward move for European interest rates, banks continued to wilt. Deutsche Bank shed 25 cents at €84.80 and HypoVereinsbank came off €2.51 at €69.09.

Insurers in contrast took heart from a better day for bonds. Munich Re, which sank to €285.50 at one stage, ended €1.10 better at €300.

Paris ended lower, with the CAC 40 index off 23.49 at 5,649.46 after another round of profit-taking in tech-related shares. Equant fell €5.90 or 5.4 per cent to €103.6 and Cap Gemini €11.40 at €234.2. France Telecom, the benchmark heavyweight, came off €3.10 at €124.9. There was no shortage of firm features, however, and broad momentum was fairly evenly poised.

Lagardere provided one of the main upside talking points, rising €1.85 to €73.80 after the group announced plans to sell part of its Club Internet service provider.

Amsterdam saw oil giant Royal Dutch add 69 cents at €59.75 on strong oil prices but most other heavyweights pushed lower. The AEX index ended off 5.13 at 642.59. Philips shed €3.35 at €149.10 while foods leader Unilever fell €1.90 at €52.50. Financials continued to drift lower on interest rate concerns. Aegon lost €1.20 at €80.45.

In Helsinki the broad market was weak as worries about inflation were stirred by climbing oil prices. The HEX general index finished 203.16 lower at 14,294.27 in robust turnover of 1.3 billion.

Madrid was easier after a mixed session, marked by further interest in Internet stocks. The general index finished 3.93 lower at 996.50.