European Closing Update: Telecoms Move Bourses Higher

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LONDON -- European stocks headed solidly higher, with banks leading the way in the U.K. and telecom issues sending continental bourses upward.

London's

FTSE 100

index closed up 65.4 points, or 1.0%, at 6,441.0. Banks were the rage, after

Bank of Scotland

upped its bid for

NatWest

(NW)

to 24.3 billion pounds. NatWest rose 49p, or 4.0%, to 12.83 pounds, while Bank of Scotland was up 17p, or 2.7%, to 678.

Royal Bank of Scotland

-- which is also eyeing NatWest, was up 20p, 1.9%, to 10.55 pounds. Other financials also rose -- despite persistent rate worries. Mortgage banks

Halifax

up 17p, or 3.0%, at 569, and

Abbey National

closing at 800, up 23p or 3.0%.

Cable & Wireless

(CWP)

provided an early feature, but its gains were trimmed to just 18p, or 1.4%, at 13.38 pounds. Even so, the rumors continue to keep the stock in positive ground, and

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

remains the market's favorite to make a play.

The speculation was boosted by news that

France Telecom

(FTE)

would take complete control of a floundering joint venture between

Sprint

and Deutsche. This pushed the shares of both former state-run monopolies higher. France closed up 7.10, or 5.6%, at 135 euros and Deutsche finished 4.8 higher, or 6.8%, at 75.50 euros.

Misys

shrugged off early weakness after revealing interim earnings below expectations, and reversed gear after the market looked up "goodwill amortization" in the investor's dictionary, while simultaneously warming to a strong buy recommendation from

Warburg Dillon Read

and a price target of 11 pounds. The shares ended 88p, or 11.1%, better at 879.

Europe's continental bourses posted broad gains Thursday in considerable volatility. After erasing early gains by midday, the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was able to power ahead to close up 156.76, or 2.3%, at 7126.13. The

CAC 40

in Paris closed up 42, or 0.7%, at 5688.35.

Traders complained of a hectic session, caused mainly by the considerable amount of news and rumors emerging. Poor dears.

For example,

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

first became a topic of discussion on the trading floor after it was announced U.S. co-Chairman Robert Eaton was leaving the company solely in the hands of his German counterpart, Juergen Schrempp. Later on, however, interest shifted to Italian newspaper reports claiming DaimlerChrysler and

Fiat

were in advanced merger talks. Even though both firms declined to confirm the speculation, DaimlerChrysler ended up 2.75, or 4.1%, at 69.85 euros and in Milan Fiat surged 1.5, or 5.4%, to 29.25 euros.

In Frankfurt, technology darlings

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

and

Siemens

were both able to book solid gains on the day. Software maker SAP finished up 54.10, or 7%, at 833 euros and Siemens surged 7.9, or 5.6%, to 149.90 euros.