LONDON -- The
did a fine crab impersonation Wednesday, moving sideways in early dealings. After being up as much as 7 points, by midmorning the Footsie slipped 43.8 points to 6269.7, helped by weakness in the telecom sector. The
index of leading technology shares was just 0.6 point higher to 3401.5.
On the downside was
, which dipped 25, or 10%, to 228 ($3.45) after news that it will issue a five-year $450 million convertible bond. Telewest expects the notes to price today. The lead managers are
Salomon Smith Barney
This has put the other telecom leaders under a cloud amid fears that others may have to issue bonds to pay for the next rounds of European wireless licenses. Bidding for Dutch licenses starts next Monday and the German round begins on July 31. Also,
of Sweden has said this morning that it fears mobile phone market growth could slow.
came under pressure and the shares eased 8p to 278, while
shed 18p to 865 and
Cable & Wireless
slipped 58 to
The pharmaceutical sector stayed firm under the lead of
, which rose 21p to
has tagged the stock as market outperform and
has done the same, with a price target of 32.
edged forward a few pence to
19.15, as did merger partner
, to 870.
Elsewhere, toy retailer
jumped 7p to 158.5 as the company confirmed a takeover bid approach.
, the designer and manufacturer of greetings products and stationery, advanced 34p to 287 on news that the company has a license to manufacture its products for
animated film by Nick Park is expected to be a blockbuster.
Europe's other major stock markets were also lower early Friday, with telcos also taking the spotlight. The
in Frankfurt was down 131.39 to 6924.66 and the
in Paris was 84.42 lower to 6523.54. The
index was down 112.4 to 6026.0.
was the biggest loser on the Dax, tanking 3.07 euros, or 4.8%, to 60.52 ($57.04) amid reports the company was preparing a $99 billion bid for
following the breakdown of its merger with
was off 3.70 euros to 155.20, after the company confirmed it was hoping to buy out Deutsche Telekom's stake in the Italian telephone joint venture
. In Madrid,
was down 0.12 euro to 23.13.
Blue-chip German tech shares were also in negative territory, with software maker
down 9.81 euros to 199.75,
3.60 euros lower to 117.40 and
off 2.60 euros to 154.40.