Around the World's Markets

LONDON

NEW YORK encouraged Footsie to move higher. The blue chip index ended 38.7 points up at 6,069.9 after spending much of the session in negative territory. Supporting shares also made headway.

It was, however, a lacklustre session with trading falling below recent high levels. Hopes of a share buy-back of up to pounds 2bn lifted Unilever, the Anglo Dutch detergents and foods giant, 42p to 625.5p and British Aerospace recovered some of last week's loss with a 19p gain to 421p.

NEW YORK

TAKEOVER FEVER sent US stocks higher, with the Dow Jones up 139.95 points at 9,479.9 by lunch-time yesterday.

Investor sentiment was boosted by news of two major takeover deals. United Technologies, the jet engine manufacturer, said it would pay $4.3bn for the aerospace parts maker Sundstrand. Sempra Energy, Canada's largest natural gas company, announced plans to buy KN Energy, a US gas company, for $5bn.

TOKYO

TOKYO STOCKS closed sharply higher, amid hopes that the yen's slide against the dollar would take the pressure off Japanese exporters. The Nikkei 225 index closed up 158.63 points - or 1.13 per cent - at 14,256.67. Traders expressed relief that G7 finance ministers did not hint at actions to boost the Japanese currency at their weekend summit.

Global manufacturers were among the major gainers, with Honda up 3.25 per cent and Canon up 1.72 per cent.

HONG KONG

HONG KONG stocks closed marginally lower, with investors cautious ahead of HSBC's annual earnings announcement.

The banking giant HSBC, which reported a 19 per cent drop in pre-tax profit shortly after the Hong Kong market closed, is a major constituent of the benchmark Hang Seng share index.

Yesterday, the Hang Seng closed 24.78 points, or 0.27 per cent, lower at 9,229.34.

MILAN

THE MILAN bourse outperformed all other European exchanges yesterday, with the market boosted by news of a $59bn takeover bid for Telecom Italia, Italy's largest telecoms company, by Olivetti, its smaller rival.

The Milan Mib30 index ended 3.24 per cent higher at 35,497.

Shares in Telecom Italia soared 9.05 per cent to 9.86 euros, just below Olivetti's offer price of 10 euros.

Olivetti shares dropped 6.69 per cent to 3 euros.

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