Around the World's Markets: PARIS

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FRENCH SHARES were spurred to new highs, boosted by merger euphoria on the back of TotalFina's hostile 42bn euro bid for its rival Elf Aquitaine.

The benchmark CAC ended up 1.67 per cent at a record close of 4,697.84, after briefly breaking through the psychological level of 4,700. The oil stock Elf - which closed up 21.52 per cent - made over two-thirds of the CAC's 77.2 point rise. In other sectors, the IT Cap Gemini gained 3.80 per cent ahead of its first-half results.