European Midday Update: Major Markets Trade Higher

After a rocky morning, the Footsie is back in positive territory, and Deutsche Telekom announces another deal.
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LONDON -- On Wednesday night, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the

FTSE 100

had that "next-stop-7000" look to it. But this morning, after a shakeout on Wall Street overnight, the Footsie was looking a little unsure of itself, and after spending most of the morning in negative territory, was lately up 47.10 at 6194.50.

Things looked good at the start, with the index moving into positive territory on the back of good results from constituents

Abbey National

and

Sema

.

Abbey National gained 34p at 700 before easing back to stand 13p higher at 679. Profits at the top end of market expectations boosted Sema 32p to 16.81 pounds, but

WPP

reacted badly to its figures and fell 84p to 10.70 pounds.

One thing's for certain, mortgage bank

Halifax

has no intention of letting the grass grow under its feet, as it announced a fresh foray into the e-finance investment game with the launch of

esure.com

. Investors were suitably impressed, and the shares rose 34p to 487. The annual results are due Friday.

In the pharmaceutical sector, both

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

and

SmithKline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Report

regained a semblance of dignity after the sharp falls Thursday that followed their respective results. Glaxo rallied 20p to 14.80 pounds, and SmithKline moved up 8p to 682.

British Telecom

(BTY)

staged a tentative rally after the decline started Thursday because of Chancellor

Gordon Brown's

comments over lower Internet charges. BT stock improved to 975 before tailing off again to stand 4p cheaper on balance at 969. The perceived beneficiary in the "local loop war,"

Colt Telecom

(COLTY)

was 15p higher, but is now 15p lower than its opening price, currently trading at 36.28 pounds.

Major Continental stock markets were mixed midday as the impending interest-rate decision by the

European Central Bank

failed to give trading a unified direction. Markets in Germany and France, however, were both higher with the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt up 38.09 at 7528.41 and the

CAC 40

in Paris trading up 60.63 at 6106.90.

A day after announcing a deal involving its Internet until T-Online,

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

announced another one early Thursday. This time DT agreed to cooperate with

Commerzbank's

(CRZBY)

online unit Comdirect Bank. The deal, which will involve swapping steaks of both units, pushed DT shares up 1.40 euros to 86.40 and Commerzbank 1.42 euros higher to 38.32.

Other German financial issues weren't having such a good session.

Deutsche Bank

(DTBKY)

was down 2.58 euros at 78.80 and

Dresdner Bank

fell 1.34 euros to 49.66.

Software maker

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

was up 7 euros at 845 and

Epcos

(EPC) - Get Report

climbed 5.94 euros to 149.94.

In Paris,

France Telecom

(FTE)

was up 4 euros to 159. However,

Vivendi

was off 0.30 euros to 117.20 after giving up early gains made amid reports it would cooperate with

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

.