LONDON -- Market participants can be forgiven if they experienced a sense of d¿j¿ vu following Tuesday's relatively lackluster session. Other than a few standout movements, there was not too much to get overly excited about and traders once again decided that their best strategy is to remain firmly on the sidelines. The
closed 9.6 points higher at 6,473.80, while the
index of leading technology shares finished 6.48 points lower at 3,398.27 points.
Banks ostensibly had a good session, with both
posting healthy rises on the perception their global reach will isolate them from any fallout from a pricing war in the U.K. mortgage market.
HSBC gained 38.5p to 805.5 ($12.19), while Stan Chart closed 8.5p higher at 896.5.
Royal Bank of Scotland
managed to hitch a lift on the rally, gaining 19p to
15.01 and 14p to
But something is clearly rotten in the banking sector.
continued its fall from grace, shedding another 14.5p to 569.5. According to Nick Glydon, technical analyst at
Robert Fleming Securities
, the move back below major support at 600p suggests a further decline to at least 500p.
It was also a mixed story for telecoms.
rose 14p to 933 as the market took heart at the launch of
, its joint venture with the US's
. Spurious rumors are also starting to do the rounds that BT is looking for an even closer relationship with its U.S. chum, and that it may eventually decide on a full-blown merger.
But underlining the current schizophrenic nature of the sector, BT warned that its bidding for an Italian 3G mobile license was likely to leave its gearing substantially higher. The market chose to ignore this, and seemed instead to focus their negative energy on
. The FTSE 100 heavyweight closed 10.25p lower at 304 after negative broker comments about
on handset margins.
Cable & Wireless
was a nice illustration of a market caught in two minds. Its stock was marked down to a session low of
12.04 on news that
switched its attention elsewhere and is now looking to buy U.S. mobile phone company
. However, by the close, Cable & Wireless had made an impressive comeback, closing up 4p at 1252.
The momentum behind
continued, with the stock consolidating further on its recent strong performance. Although it eased back from its record level of 4905p to close up 35p at
50.00 is starting to look too tempting not to be targeted.
Dot-com stocks took a pasting on the uncertainty over the state of
IPO on Frankfurt's
, scheduled for tomorrow.
shed 8.25p to 307.
plummeted by over 9% to close at 130p, while
fell by around 6% to 67.75p.
Europe's other major stock markets closed mixed Tuesday, with the
in Paris ending up just 2.93, or 0.05%, at 6,490.4. Late in the German trading session, the
in Frankfurt was down 58.0, or 0.8%, at 7,012.8 and the
index was off a whopping 254.6, or 4.2%, at 5,852.9.
Deutsche Telekom weighed on the Dax amid the reports it was considering a $30 billion bid for VoiceStream. Two hours to the close DT was down 1.69 euros, or 2.8%, at 59.66 ($56.99).
, which is also thought to have an interest in VoiceStream, closed down 3.40 euros, or 2.3%, at 147.60.
Elsewhere in the telco world,
ended up 0.33 euros, or 1.4%, at 24.78 and
was up 2.50 euros, or 3.4%, at 76.90.
closed down 8.50 euros, or 5.3%, at 152.00, after
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
lowered its rating to "neutral" and German electronics giant
was up 0.99 euros, or 0.6%, at 166.99, as
reiterated its "outperform" rating.