European Midday Update: Markets Spurn Wall Street's Lead, Drift Lower - TheStreet

European Midday Update: Markets Spurn Wall Street's Lead, Drift Lower

Worries over the Fed meeting keep the lid on activity in Europe.
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LONDON -- Leading U.K. shares again struggled to find direction on Tuesday despite overnight gains on Wall Street.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 138 points and the

Nasdaq

rallied 66 points, but London's response was a measly 23-point rise in early trading. By midmorning, the

FTSE 100

was down 3.9 points to 6401.3. The

Techmark

initially climbed 25.6 points to 3441.8, before slipping back to stand just 11.3 points higher at 3427.8.

Internet service provider

Freeserve

(FREE)

, which suffered a major setback Monday after announcing that takeover talks with

T-Online

had broken down, fell another 20p this morning to 345p ($5.18). Investors seemed to feel that

Dixons

, the electrical retailer that owns 80% of Freeserve, will struggle to find another suitable buyer in the short term.

Monday's news that scientists have broken the back of mapping the human genome continues to boost drug stocks.

Cambridge Antibodies

and

Oxford Glycosciences

, two companies with the potential to develop drugs based on genetic information, made further good progress this morning with the former up 100p to

30.00 and the latter 40p higher to

18.25.

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

was up 14p to

18.59 and merger partner

SmithKline Beecham

added 5.5p to 847.5. The U.S.

Food and Drug Administration

meets today to discuss Glaxo's drug

Lotronex

.

Cautious comment from brokerages and a fall in the price of one-month brent crude -- down from just over $32 to its current level of $30.94 -- prompted a bout of profit-taking among the oil majors.

BP Amoco

(BPA)

slipped 8.5p to 640.5 and

Shell

(SC) - Get Report

was down 3p to 567.

Most of Europe's other major stock markets were also moderately lower, with the

CAC 40

in Paris down 33.89 to 6552.37 and the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt off 26.65 to 7000.54. The

Neuer Markt's

tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was up 39.6 to 6237.0.

German blue-chip tech shares were mixed, with

Siemens

(SMAWY)

up 1.85 euros to 158.15 ($148.04),

Epcos

(EPC) - Get Report

2.45 euros lower to 123.35 and

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

up 0.80 euro to 213.80.

E.ON

(EON)

tanked 2.25 euros to 51.25 after

Hypovereinsbank

announced it was unloading half of its stake of shares in the utility. Hypovereinsbank was down 0.12 euro to 65.29 and

Dresdner Bank

(DRSDY)

was up 0.20 euro to 42.40.

Major European telcos were mixed, with

Telefonica

(TEF) - Get Report

up 0.48 euro to 21.03,

France Telecom

(FTE)

down 3.20 euros to 160.30 and

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

0.04 euro higher to 63.58.