European Midday Update: Europe Lower, Quiet Ahead of Holiday

Oil shares rise before OPEC meeting of oil ministers.
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LONDON -- U.K. stocks were surprisingly firm early this morning, given the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 122 points overnight, but in the absence of any investment leads -- and many people are out at the Ascot horse racing event -- the FTSE 100 by midmorning had drifted down to stand 85.3 points lower at 6441.6.

The

Nasdaq's

move back above 4000 points overnight gave some support to tech stocks, however, and the

Techmark

edged forward 8.8 points to 3466.1.

Oil shares continued to rise ahead of Wednesday's

OPEC

meeting of oil ministers, even though the organization is likely to increase output by 1 million barrels. The market thinks this is too little, too late and believes the oil price will stick around the $30 level, suggesting that there is further upside in the heavyweights such as

Shell

(SC) - Get Report

, up 13p to 563 ($8.56), and

BP Amoco

(BPA)

, up 3.5p to 628. However,

Enterprise Oil

, considered by some to be a potential takeover target, encountered profit-taking this morning and slipped 4p to 512.

Computer games publisher

Eidos

(EIDSY)

, which saw its shares shoot up almost 28% on Tuesday after announcing it is in takeover talks, slipped back 35p to 515 pending developments.

Europe's other major stock markets were also lower amid thin trade before the Corpus Christi holiday on Thursday. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was down 120.22 to 7107.05 and the

CAC 40

in Paris was 72.10 lower to 6482.82. The

Neuer Markt's

tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was off 89.1 to 6419.0.

German tech shares were mostly lower, with software maker

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

off 2.85 euros to 659.65 ($630.90) and

Siemens

(SMAWY)

down 1.05 euros to 161.85.

Epcos

(EPC) - Get Report

was one of the few issues in positive territory, up 4.00 euros to 135.00.

Carmakers were mixed, as

Volkswagen

(VLKAY)

rose 0.04 euro to 40.28 and

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

dropped 0.08 euro to 56.85.

In Paris, conglomerate

Vivendi

recouped some of its losses Tuesday from announcing it would merge with

Seagram

(VO) - Get Report

. Midday, Vivendi was up 0.20 euro to 88.30.

It was an off day for major European telcos, with

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

down 0.47 euro to 20.93,

France Telecom

(FTE)

down 3.70 euros to 158.10 and

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

1.87 euros lower to 64.03.