LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets were mixed after Thursday's late slump, with many analysts still puzzling over whether it was the prospect of a sooner-than-expected rise in U.S. or U.K. interest rates, rising geopolitical tensions or the unexpected flexibility of Apple's (AAPL) latest phone that sparked the change of mood.
Paris spent the morning in positive territory, as the market awaited U.S. growth figures Friday and took heart from the latest French consumer confidence indicator. The French statistics agency Insee reported consumer confidence was stable in September. But London and Frankfurt were in a less cheerful mood. Frankfurt, which always has its eye on what is happening to the East, was shaken by the news that Hungary will stop supplying fuel to Ukraine, following a visit to the country by a delegation from the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. Germany's own consumer confidence figures showed a different story too, with a local survey coming in below economists' expectations.
Meanwhile in London, the market was hit by profit warnings from, among others, banknote and passport printer De La Rue (DELRF) , and waste management company Shanks Group. De La Rue fell nearly 30% to 537 pence after it warned on input prices and competition pressures and said it would likely cut its dividend. Shanks was down 16% at 86.25 after warning the outlook for its business in Belgium and the Netherlands remained bleak and cutting its full year forecast by 15%.
Telco Telecom Italia was still up Friday morning after Thursday's surge on a rumored $9.6 billion approach from former Telstra and U.S. West Communications chief Sol Trujillo.
One glimmer of good news, at least on emerging markets, which have been badly hit by the speculation on interest rates the rise in the dollar: Japanese electronics group Sharp announced it was licensing its troubled European LCD TV business to unlisted Slovak company Universal Media and transferring its European white goods business to Turkey's Vestel Group. Shares in Vestel's white goods business Vestel Beyaz Esya were up over 8% at the end of the morning, while its separately listed electronics sister company Vestel Elektronik was up 6%.
Meanwhile, banana producers Fyffes (FYFFF) or Ireland and Chiquita Brands (CQB) of Charlotte, N.C., revised their merger plan to give Chiquita a bigger share of the combined group, in the hope of fending off a hostile bid from Brazil's Cutrale and Safra families. Fyffes was up 0.5% to 83.5 pence, Chiquita was down 0.2% before the U.S. market opened.
London's FTSE 100 was down 0.04% at 6,637, while in Paris the CAC 40 was up 0.60% at 4,381. Frankfurt's DAX spent the morning languishing below last night's close, but was up 0.16% in early afternoon trading at 9,525. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.88% at 16,229.86 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng was down 0.38% at 23,678.41.