European Midday Update: Markets Struggle to Hit Stride - TheStreet

LONDON -- The market was off to a slow start Thursday morning, with the FTSE 100 down 14.9 points shortly after the opening, but since recovering to stand 24.6 points higher at 6383.9.

A little bit of uncertainty has crept into the techs this morning following a fall in the Nasdaq overnight. The

Techmark

index, having been marginally lower earlier on, edged forward 14.8 points to 3272.1.

Staffware

continued to attract buyers and rose 125p more to

19.12 ($28.68), while

Fibernet

gained 70p to

15.57. However,

ARM Holdings

(ARMHY)

dipped 29p to 563 before picking up to stand 8p cheaper on balance at 584, and

BATM Advanced Communications

slipped 62p to

37.87.

Vodafone AirTouch

(VOD) - Get Report

took a breather after the recent activity and was unchanged at 305, but

British Telecom

(BTY)

rose 6p to 975 and

Colt Telecom

(COLTY)

was a few pence cheaper at

23.53.

There was a fresh stream of trading statements to keep dealers on their toes this morning.

Railtrack

was shunted into a siding after very poor annual results accompanied by a warning on current-year profits. The shares were down 15p at 825, having been 40p lower at one stage.

Drugstore chain

Boots

posted top-of-the range full-year pretax profits of

587 million, but the shares fell 27p to 530 as the company admitted there is some pressure on its margins.

Credit Lyonnais

has moved the stock from a "buy" to an "add" and it is expected that other brokers will trim their profits forecasts.

Barclays Bank

(BCS) - Get Report

reported an upbeat first-quarter trading statement this morning and the shares rose 8p to

17.47.

Europe's other stock markets were mostly higher. The

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt was up 74.7 at 7184.4 and the

CAC 40

in Paris was up 35.9 at 6462.2. The Neuer Markt's tech-heavy

Nemax 50

index was down 21.6 at 5460.4.

In Frankfurt, financial shares were some of the biggest gainers, with

Deutsche Bank

(DBKAY)

up 1.10 euros at 83.90 ($78.03) and its erstwhile partner

Dresdner Bank

(DRSDY)

up 0.75 euro at 44.85.

Munich Re

rose a further 5.86 euros to 316.86 as investors continued to bet that earnings for the world's largest reinsurance company would improve from last year's disastrous results.

Telecom shares were mixed, though.

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

was down 0.50 euro at 66.40, while

France Telecom

(FTE)

was up 1.00 euro at 158.00 and

KPN

(KPN)

was up 1.50 euros at 98.50.