LONDON -- There was plenty for U.K. investors to digest on Wednesday with a whole raft earnings statements from some big names. Despite this, the
struggled to move far in either direction, and although the index stayed in positive territory for most of the day, a weak start by Wall Street took what little gloss there was off it.
The Footsie closed down 3.6 points at 6,387.1 and the
ended down 10.7 points, or 0.3%, at 3,687.32, which doesn't look too bad given the Nasdaq's sharp decline.
gained 4.5p, or 1.5%, to 304 ($4.62), which was enough to add 13.5 points to the main index. The company continues to attract positive notes from analysts following a successful continental road show last week. Confidence is being further increased by the low cost of Holland's auction for third-generation mobile licenses. Many investors take the country's auction as a sign that the costs will also be lower than previously forecast when Germany sells its licenses at the end of July. However,
warns that although Vodafone remains its top pick in the telecom sector, "we remain cautious ahead of the German 3G license auction".
, however, shed 10p, or 1.1%, to 868 ahead of its fiscal first-quarter earnings due out Thursday.
In the media sector,
, Europe's largest broadcasting company, debuted on the London market. The stock listed 167 euros and traded up to a high of 190. However, by the close, the shares had slipped back to 170p. Despite its large valuation, the company -- created by the merger of the television interests of
, will not be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE 100, as it only has a free float of around 10.3%.
Better-than-expected figures from Rupert Murdoch's
saw the company's shares recover some of their poise after Tuesday's aggressive sell-off in the wake of a downgrade from house broker
Credit Suisse First Boston
, which was apparently misconstrued anyway. The price hit an intraday high of
12.67, before easing to close 10p higher, or 0.8%, at
Europe's other major stock markets finished mixed, with the
in Paris closing up 29.09, or 0.5%, at 6,493.0. Late in the German session, the
in Frankfurt was down 68.8, or 1%, at 7,260.2 and the Neuer Markt's tech-heavy
index was 92.3 lower, or 1.5%, at 6,170.5.
After announcing their merger talks had failed,
fell 0.92 euros, or 1.9%, to 46.78 ($43.88) and
dipped 0.36 euros, or 1.0%, to 37.13. Both banks could now become takeover targets for foreign predators.
fell 7.25 euros, or 4.1%, to 170.75, despite reporting that third-quarter profit jumped 134% to a massive 832 million euros. A good quarter had been expected, so investors took it as an opportunity to take profits. Semiconductor-making subsidiary
also erased early gains to dip 3.70 euros, or 4.6%, to 77.30.
rose 0.80 euros, or 1.4%, to 57.00 after the carmaker released second-quarter figures.
was up 0.70 euros, or 1.6%, to 45.70.
European telcos were mostly higher, with
up 0.93 euros, or 1.9%, at 50.83.
closed up 2.00 euros, or 1.4%, at 142.00 and
ended 0.19 euros higher, or 0.8%, at 23.74.