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The Independent Online
LONDON

IN BUSY TRADING blue chips just managed to stay in positive territory, with Footsie closing 17.9 points higher at 5,056.3 after at one time sporting an 87.2 gain. Supporting shares were firm.

Banks continued to recover. Barclays was up 53p to 1,070p and HSBC, drawing strength from stories a bid had been made for all or part of the Hong Kong government's 8.91 per cent stake, moved 40p higher at 1,290p. Thames Water is now falling out of favour and lost a further 48p to 1,004p. Derek Pain, page 21

TOKYO

STOCKS FELL in speculation about losses at the US arm of Nomura Securities, Japan's biggest broker. Nomura said on Wednesday that its head of mortgage derivatives trading, Andrew Friedwald, had quit, but declined to comment on the trading loss speculation.

The Nikkei 225 shed 75.36 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 12,995.37, just 115 points above last Friday's 13-year low. "It's not just Nomura - people are going to wonder if trading companies or banks have similar losses on their books,'' said Tsuguya Onozuka of Yamatane Securities.

PARIS

THE CAC-40 INDEX ended almost flat after a slump in oil stocks and selling of shares in France Telecom, which accounts for 13 per cent of the index, wiped out early gains.

The index closed just 1.22 higher at 3,362.26 after touching a high of 3,422.45 in the morning. France Telecom closed down 3.65 per cent at 409.5 francs.

Total and Elf Aquitaine fell 4 per cent and 5 per cent respectively following downgrades from brokers Salomon Smith Barney.

FRANKFURT

THE DAX index closed slightly higher in thin trading, with the Xetra Dax up 0.47 per cent at 4,391.64.

Claims by Bundesbank President Hans Tietmeyer that euro-interest rates are likely to settle at the lower end of current country ranges increased hopes of rate cuts.

Banking stocks gained ground with HypoVereinsbank leading, and Deutsche, Dresdner and Commerzbank higher. However, utilities suffered from fears of a tougher regime.

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