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The Independent Online

FOOTSIE ENDED a three-day losing streak with a 22.6-point gain to 5,557.1, but supporting shares again gave ground.

Diageo, the spirits group, was the worst-performing Footsie member, down 31.5p to 615.5p on worries that LVMH, the luxury goods group, may cut its 10.84 per cent stake. Advancing blue chips included Vodafone, up 42p to 945p, and BT, up 21p to 881p, boosted by a relatively lenient regulatory review of the mobile phone sector.

Derek Pain, page 19


US STOCKS rose for the first time in four days as General Electric reversed the gloomy trend of the past month by announcing that earnings would be in line with expectations. By mid-afternoon, the Dow Jones had risen 0.3 per cent to 8,720.

Microsoft rose 2 per cent, as investors bought the stock after yesterday's 5 per cent fall. "There's still gas left in the tank. They have the strongest pipeline of products in the history of the company," said one analyst.


CONTINUING CONCERNS over the health of the banking sector dragged the Nikkei through the 14,000 barrier, before staging a late rally to finish at 14,011, its lowest level since the start of November, and a 0.7 per cent fall on the day.

Yakuda Trust was still reeling from the government's announcement that NCB would be privatised. Shares plunged by 44 per cent, before recovering to close down 17 per cent, as rumours persist that it has under-reported its bad loans.


SHRUGGING OFF overnight declines on Wall Street, Hong Kong shares reversed the fall of the previous three days, with the Hang Seng closing at 9,952, a rise of 1.3 per cent.

Cheung Kong Holdings, and its affiliate Hutchison Whampoa, both rose by nearly 2 per cent as the property developers announced a salary freeze for Hong Kong-based staff. Dealers were not entirely convinced by the gains, as most investors were still sitting on the sidelines.


IN A QUIET day's trading, German shares remained largely unchanged, with the benchmark DAX index closing up 0.1 per cent at 4,570.

Deutsche Bank, which is set to become the world's largest financial services company, rose 6 per cent after it announced that it will create a separate unit to manage its industrial investments. The bank said that the structure of the unit will help it reduce the 50 per cent tax it currently pays when it sells an investment for profit.