European Closing Update: U.K., Continental Bourses Go Separate Ways

London stocks were hit hard by heavy selling. But German and French stocks, particularly in the telecom sector, kept heading higher.
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BERLIN -- There is nothing like a quiet end to the week, and today was nothing like a quiet end to the week.

In London, stocks got hammered. The

FTSE 100

closed down 139.30 points, or 2.2%, at 6,185.00.

Sentiment has been affected by some violent moves in the U.S. bond market amid rumors -- which made their way to London from New York overnight -- that major hedge funds are in financial trouble.

But the real reason for the fall in London is that institutions are forced sellers of blue chip stocks because they now have to increase their gearing in the new Vodafone Airtouch/Mannesmann conglomerate.

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

closed down 22p, or 6.0%, at 346.5, but the shares are expected to recover strongly once the big boys muscle in. It is not a matter of if, or whether, but when.

The troubled retailer

Marks & Spencer

is humming an old Motown tune called "I'm still waiting." The entrepreneur Philip Green has watched from across the dance floor but has yet to make to the Supreme commitment. M&S investors would likely accept anyone, as long as it came with a reasonable dowry.

Stock indigestion sent

Reuters

(RTRSY)

down 38.5p, or 3.7%, to 10.07 pounds, with investors deciding that a profit of 1 pound per share in a week is quite enough. "Always leave something for someone else" and "it's never wrong to take a profit," were the two maxims of this week. Reuters is expected to regain momentum next week -- interest rates willing.

The hot money in the telecom sector is being switched into

Colt Telecom

(COLTY)

. The feeling is that further consolidation is inevitable. Colt ended up 195p, or 5.5%, at 37.46 pound.

Interest rate worries are casting an air of gloom over the banks, with

Barclays

(BCS) - Get Report

down 64p, or 2.6%, 13.87 pounds, and

Lloyds TSB

16.5p lower, or 2.6%, at 610.

The continent's markets moved in the opposite direction to London, as the price Vodafone is paying for Mannesmann's company gave a lift to the rest of the telcos.

The

Xetra Dax

rose 90.35 points, or 1.2%, to 7444.61 ¿ an all-time high -- and the

CAC 40

ended up 126.05, or 2.1%, at 6275.72.

Mannesmann

(MNNSY)

ended 3.45 euros, or 1.0%, lower at 322.05 euros, but

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

recovered from early losses to add 1.26 euros, or 1.5%, to 84.9.

France Telecom

(FTE)

rose 8.60 euros, or 5.6%, to 162.00.

Tech shares also did well with

Siemens

gaining 7.76 euros, or 5.1%, to 160.2 and

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

adding 40.50 euros, or 5.0%, at 840.50.