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The Independent Online

FINANCIALS led the market lower. Footsie fell 57.1 points to 5,433.9 in lacklustre trading. Supporting shares were also weak. Bank shares were damaged by analyst downgradings with Royal Bank of Scotland the hardest hit, down 61p to 827p, as Morgan Stanley, long-time bulls of the banking sector, turned cautious. Insurances continued to suffer from last week's poor nine month display by Royal & Sun Alliance, down 8p at 493p. CGU, with third quarter figures tomorrow, gave up 22p to 898p. Derek Pain, page 23


STOCKS FELL for the first time in nine days amid profit taking and worries that the US Federal Reserve will not cut interest rates next week. JP Morgan and other banks led the decline.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow industrials fell 75.92 to 8,900.94. The S& 500 fell 11.60 to 1,129.41 and the Nasdaq composite rose 8.70 to 1,847.51.

Banks were among the biggest beneficiaries of the Fed's rate cuts on 29 September and 15 October, as lower rates boost demand for loans and credit.


THE TOKYO stock market staged a modest rally thanks to a slight fall in the yen against the dollar, which eased the prospects of leading exporters. The Nikkei index closed 72.57 higher at 14,194.54 but investors remained cautious, waiting for details of the government's package of measures aimed at stimulating the economy.

Export-based hi-tech stocks led the way, including Sony Corporation. But banking shares fell back, reflecting concern at the rise in the premiums Japanese banks have to pay to raise funds abroad.


STOCKS SAGGED to a lower close on profit taking, after healthy gains in the past month. The benchmark Hang Seng index shed 287.8 points, or 2.84 per cent, to end at 9,851.93, with turnover shrinking from Friday's HK$9.6bn to HK$5.72bn.

Brokers said that the market was concerned the government might offload some of its HK$118bn stock portfolio, after a round of share placing by red chip companies. The red chip China-Affiliated Corporations index fell 1.24 per cent to 1,015.21.


SHARES CLOSED lower on profit-taking and on a lower Wall Street opening, but traders here remained confident of an upward trend in the market. The Xetra DAX closed at 4,762.38, down 47.35, while the DAX closed today's floor session down 67.64 at 4,768.58.

Pharmaceutical and chemicals group Hoechst rose nearly 5 per cent as rival Swiss chemical groups Ciba Specialty Chemicals and Clariant announced a merger. Hoechst, which owns 45 per cent of Clariant, ended 1 per cent lower as the broader market fell.