LONDON -- Europe's markets were lower Wednesday led by falls in telecom and oil stocks.
Not even the slightly softer-than-expected July average earnings data for the U.K. could rescue the London markets. The
closed down 77 points, or 1.2%, at 6,478 and the
was down 43 points, or 1.1%, at 3,921. Matters were not helped by a weak Nasdaq Composite overnight and this morning.
As usual, trading in the FTSE's most heavily weighted stock
was hectic. The telecom giant was once again the most actively traded stock and was also among the market's top losers. Vodafone ended down 8.75 pence, or 3.2%, at 264.25 ($3.72), and considering that every 1p fall in Vodafone wipes 3 points off the index, it's easy to see why the Footsie had the blues.
The drop comes amid reports that Vodafone is close to negotiating the sale of its Italian fixed-line phone subsidiary
. One analyst says there are concerns that the sale price could be weaker than had been expected. Analyst Greg Main at
says that the market had hoped for a price of 15 billion euros ($12.9 billion), but it looks like Infostrada will only raise 12-13 billion euros. "We were expecting a bit more and that's obviously going to be negative for their debt repayments," he said.
was also among the losers, dropping 5p, or 0.6%, at 802. And
ended down 2.5p, or 0.5%, at 489.5 even though it unveiled its strategy for the unbundling of the local loop by applying for access to up to 1,000 BT exchanges to provide broadband services to customers across the UK.
Away from telecoms, oil stocks closed down on profit-taking and the fall in crude prices.
was down 18.5p, or 3.0%, at 600 and BP was 9.5p lower, or 1.4%, at 655.5.
In Europe, the
in Paris closed off 128.9, or 1.9%, at 6,568.9 and late in the German session the
in Frankfurt was down 129.5, or 1.8%, at 7,006.2. The Neuer Markt's tech-heavy
index was 151.5 lower, or 2.5%, at 5,951.9.
was one of the few stocks in positive territory, eking 0.07 euros higher, or 0.1%, to 94.57 ($81.54), after the bank was no longer considered likely to bid for
Technology had a nasty afternoon, with
down 3.07 euros, or 4.6%, at 64.06,
off 4.90 euros, or 2.8%, at 174.45 and software maker
9.02 euros lower, or 3.2%, at 271.98.
One bright spot for tech investors was the debut of
SAP Systems Integration
on the Neuer Markt Wednesday. The stock surged to 43.20 euros from its initial price of 19 euros. The offering was 56 times oversubscribed.
Telecoms also had a lousy day, with
down 0.09 euros, or 0.2%, at 42.32,
down 0.46 euros, or 1.9%, at 23.54 and
off 6.20 euros, or 4.7%, at 126.40.