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European Closing Update: Markets End Lower After Bright Start

Europe's markets got off to a fine start but fell steadily into the close.
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LONDON -- The adrenalin flowed first thing this morning on expectations that the U.K. market would roar ahead on the back of Wall Street's overnight rise, but after surging at the outset, trading ran out of steam mid-session and the FTSE 100 closed down 8.3 points, or 0.1%, at 6,609.6.

Initially, a large drag on the FTSE was the placement of 925 million shares of

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

at 349 pence by

Hutchison Whampoa

(HUWHY)

at a price of 349p a share. Hutchison acquired the shares as part of the acquisition of

Mannesmann

(MNNSY)

by Vodafone. However, the huge sale was relatively easily absorbed, according to Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, and Vodafone rallied strongly to halve the 20-pence fall and close 10p lower, or 2.7%, at 368 ($5.78).

The rest of the telecom sector was mixed, with

British Telecom

(BTY)

ending up 9p, or 0.7%, to 12.48 pounds, but

Colt Telecom

(COLTY)

down 112p, or 3.5%, at 30.93 pounds.

Retailer

Kingfisher

(KNGFY)

responded to top-of-the-range profits and its e-commerce strategy with a gain of 48p, or 9.9%, to 534.

The tech sector was volatile yet again.

BATM Advanced Communications

moved up 172p, or 2.7%, to 66.87 pound, and

Royalblue Group

gained 137p, or 9.2%, to 17.62 pounds. These were the best of the tech stocks. Not so lucky were

Baltimore Technologies

down 705p, or 7.8%, at 83.18 pounds, and

Psion

down 296p, or 6.1%, at 45.91 pounds. These two stocks are now FTSE constituents, so it is little wonder the Footsie swings around these days. The

Techmark

index of leading tech stocks ended 65.7 points lower, or 1.4%, at 4,520.1.

Lastminute.com

TST Recommends

is looking like the last stock you should buy. It ended the session 32.5p lower, or 10.2%, at 287.5, as investors throw in the towel. The price is now 92.5p below the offer price.

The continental stock markets ended mixed after the bottom fell out from some of the bourses late in the session. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt ended near unchanged, down only 9.31 at 7807.93 and the

CAC 40

in Paris erased early gains to close down 41.58, or 0.7%, at 6279.29.

In Frankfurt, there was little uniformity within and among specific sectors. Technology blue chip

Siemens

(SMAWY)

fell 11.70 euros, or 6.9%, to 158.30 ($152.65), but

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

rose 26.99 euros, or 3%, to 936.99.

The debut of

Lycos Europe

on the

Neuer Markt

became another of the many recently disappointing European Internet IPOs, as the stock fell below its issue price of 24 euros. Lycos Europe shares closed at 22.75 euros.

Drugs maker

Schering

continued to climb on news that it would float a biotech unit. The stock closed up 6 euros, or 4.3%, at 145.05. Other companies in the sector couldn't follow higher, as

Bayer

(BAYZY)

closed near unchanged at 45.23 euros.

Many telecoms around Europe burned through early gains and ended the day lower.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

fell 2.19 euros, or 2.5%, to 86.80,

France Telecom

(FTE)

tanked 7.30 euros, or 4%, to 178 and

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

ended unchanged at 28.10.