TMTs drag bourses down in mixed trading


Technology shares showed a mixed picture, but the important share price movements were downwards. Telecom equipment maker Alcatel fell 4.5 per cent to #74, while Nokia, which has had a remarkable rally following its bullish forecasts of last week, fell 1.5 per cent to #56.83. However, Nokia is still only about 12 per cent below the all-time high of #65 in June. Analysts said the share was unlikely to rise much more until the run-up to its full-year results on January 30th. Worries about long-term demand for mobile phones, as expressed by Motorola and Ericsson, are likely to cap the share price.

Nokia refused to comment on rumours that it was in buy-out talks with Lucent Technologies, the US network equipment supplier whose share price has been hard hit following a series of profit warnings. Lucent shares rose 12 per cent in New York in heavy trade.

Norway's newly floated telecoms company Telenor rose 1.5 per cent to #40.60 after the chief executive hinted that it would exercise a set of cash options with BT that would help ease its debts. In principle the deal could require BT to buy Telenor's stakes in two other telecoms companies for a total of about $2.7 billion. Telenor had interest-bearing debts of more than $6 billion at the end of September.

Vivendi Universal bounced back on the second day of its life on the Paris bourse, gaining 4.5 per cent to #77.35. In New York it opened higher too, having gained 3 per cent on Monday. The company said it had two competitive offers for Seagram's drinks division and would decide by the end of the year. France's Pernod Ricard and British food and drinks group Diageo have already said they would submit a joint bid. Bermuda's Bacardi has also made an offer.

US demand was said to be the main reason for a rebound at DaimlerChrysler, which jumped 3 per cent on a day when motor stocks lost ground across the board. The shares, which have been persistently weak through most of this year, sliding from a January peak of #80, rose 3.1 to #51.29 for a net gain since the start of the month of more than 15 per cent.

French supermarket chain Casino added 1.4 per cent at #108 after Deutsche Bank put its weight behind the stock, predicting 20 per cent earnings growth per year between 2000 and 2003 and upgrading to a "buy". "In our view, Casino's more than 20 per cent rating discount to sector leaders like Carrefour, Tesco and Wal-Mart is unwarranted".