European Midday Update: Markets Largely Higher but Quiet

Vodafone shares stage comeback but company stilled dogged by negative reports.
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LONDON -- The U.K.'s markets got off to a solid start Monday morning, but with the coming holiday in the U.S. and an interest-rate decision on Thursday from the Bank of England, business was at a slow ebb.

The

FTSE 100

by midmorning was 49 points higher at 6361.7 and the

Techmark

moved up 20.4 points to 3411.5.

There were contrasting fortunes for companies within the telecom sector. Recently under siege

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

fought back to stand 12p higher at 279 ($4.24), although weekend reports were full of stories about shareholder revolt over humongous compensation packages to executives so this rally could be short-lived.

British Telecom

(BTY)

was the subject of criticism from the telecom regulator and slipped as much as 11p before coming back a little to stand 2p cheaper at 852.

Although most analysts expect interest rates to be left on untouched later this week, banks faired badly this morning.

Royal Bank of Scotland

fell 16p to

10.90 and

Barclays

(BCS) - Get Report

shed 9p to

16.34. However,

Standard Chartered

rose 8.5p to 831.5 on reports that the company is in advanced negotiations with

Chase Manhattan

(CMB)

to acquire the U.S. banking group's Hong Kong retail business for about

1 billion.

Reports that supermarket chain

Tesco

is in advanced talks over a

3-billion deal to acquire

Real

, Germany's biggest hypermarket chain that belongs to

Metro

, sent Tesco's shares down 4.5p to 201. Metro, though, climbed 1.11 euros to 38.10

Europe's other major stock markets were mixed, with the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt up 7.8 at 6,905.7 and the

CAC 40

in Paris 13.1 lower at 6,433.4. The Neuer Markt's tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was up 47.0 at 5,988.2.

Most blue-chip German tech shares were higher, with

Epcos

(EPC) - Get Report

up 4.51 euros at 109.00 ($103.90) and

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

up 2.90 euros at 196.60.

However,

Siemens

(SMAWY)

was off 0.26 euros at 157.74 and its subsidiary

Infineon

(IFX)

was down 3.10 euros at 79.45, after Siemens issued a 2-billion-euro convertible bond for Infineon stock.

Volkswagen

(VLKAY)

fell 0.39 euros to 39.30, failing to get a boost from good June sales figures in the U.S.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

was up 0.40 euros at 60.20, amid more speculation over the weekend that the former state-controlled monopoly was considering a bid for

Sprint

(FON)

.

Elsewhere,

France Telecom

(FTE)

was up 3.30 euros at 149.70 and

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

was 1.00 euro higher at 22.50.