LONDON -- The turmoil in the Middle East put an end to what had looked like a good day for the London equity market. An attack on a U.S. destroyer off Yemen, followed by an Israeli reprisal attack near Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters caused the market to turn tail.
After reaching a high of 6,211.80, the
plunged to a low of 6,068.30. By the close, however, it had recovered some of its poise to stand up 14.3 points at 6,131.90. The
reached a high of 3,482.14 and a low of 3,368.58, before closing at 3,401.59, a fall of 38.52 points.
In response to the Middle East unrest, the price of crude soared. Front month Brent gushed up to $35.50, a gain on the day of nearly 10%. Nervous investors looked to the sanctuary of government bonds, and the equity markets took the brunt of the shift.
The FTSE 100's two major oil stocks benefited from the events in the Middle East.
rose 8.5p to 646.5 ($9.46), while
added 13.5p to 611.
BP's move up was big enough for it to overtake
as the FTSE 100's largest stock. The telecoms sector failed to escape the overall volatility, and Vodafone, after posting a session high of 245p, then a low of 232p, eventually settled at 237p, a gain of 2.5p. It was a similar story for
( BTY). The stock rose to 717p, before slumping back below the 700p barrier to close 6.5p lower at 690.
It seemed that people didn't even want to put their money in banks.
closed 19p firmer at
16.91, although at one stage it stood at
closed up 4p at 914, although it did reach a session high of 938p.
But compared with the tech sector, the banks were static.
Big techs seemed to suffer most, with several experiencing massive price fluctuations.
( BKHM) moved within a huge 400p price band, before ending the day in the red by 89p at
( ARMHY) spent the morning flirting around 700p, but fell back dramatically, at one stage this afternoon the stock dropped as low as 606.5p. The chip designer "recovered" in late trading, but its share price still closed 37p lower at 633.
Europe's other major stock markets ended Thursday mixed, as German shares turned south late in the afternoon while French equities held onto early gains. The
in Paris closed up 34.6, or 0.6%, at 5,990.7 and the
in Frankfurt was down 105.5, or 1.6%, at 6,456.2 late in the German trading day. The Neuer Markt's tech-heavy
index continued to make fresh lows for the year and was down 123.9, or 2.9%, at 4,218.9.
( IFX) gave up a 5%-gain and was 0.23 euros, or 0.5%, at 47.78 ($41.52), but French chipmaker
closed up 1.35 euros, or 2.8%, to 48.90.
Telecom shares, however, were painting a mixed picture, as
rose 2.05 euros, or 2.1%, to 98.25,
( DT) was down 0.51 euros, or 1.4%, at 36.00 and
closed off 0.70 euros, or 3.1%, at 21.95.
Only some telco equipment makers were able to claw recent losses, as
( ALA) rose 1.95 euros, or 2%, to 71.15, but
closed down 0.54 euros, or 1.4%, to 37.15.