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Dec. 8, 2005, 12:49 p.m. EST

European Shares End Higher As Retail, Energy Stocks Boost

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By Sarah Turner

European shares ended Thursday's session in positive territory, as gains from retail and energy stocks offset a lower insurance sector.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index was flat at 306.92, while the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx Index climbed 0.1% to 322.77. The Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index rose 0.1% to 3510.4, while the Dow Jones Stoxx 50 Index increased 0.1% to 3349.1.

The German DAX-30 Index ended up 0.4% to 5286.75, France's CAC-40 Index added 0.2% to 4669.93, while the U.K.'s FTSE-100 Index ended little changed, up 0.04% to 5531.1.

German retailer KarstadtQuelle helped to boost retailers by finishing 13.9% higher after saying it's mulling the sale or initial public offering of its real-estate operations. The group also said it aims to pay down debt to less than €2.8 billion by the end of the year thanks to various restructuring moves that have reduced liabilities by €1 billion.

Strength in oil and gas companies such as Royal Dutch Shell /zigman2/quotes/204253697/delayed UK:RDSB -0.98% and BP /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP -0.69% also helped index gains.

Insurers like Munich Re and AXA were weaker Thursday after a brokerage downgrade, while Swiss Re was in focus after saying it intends to launch a 1 billion Swiss francs convertible bond to help pay for its purchase of General Electric /zigman2/quotes/208495069/composite GE +0.52% 's reinsurance division.

J.P. Morgan made sweeping changes to its European insurance ratings Thursday, cutting Munich Re, AXA and Generali /zigman2/quotes/203793198/delayed IT:G +0.61% to "neutral". Munich Re lost 0.4%, AXA declined 0.8% and Generali declined 0.04%.

However, both Skandia Insurance and Old Mutual bucked the lower insurance sector trend by ended higher after a report emerged in the Dagens Industri newspaper that Skandia has given in to a takeover bid by Old Mutual. Old Mutual shares ended up 2.7%, while Skandia shares rose 2.6%.

Mining stocks such as BHP /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +0.50% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +0.58% also finished lower in Europe.

U.S. stocks turned higher in morning trade Thursday, modestly extending a rally that has endured for nearly five weeks, but enthusiasm was curbed by an uncertain outlook on the housing market from Toll Brothers /zigman2/quotes/201912487/composite TOL -1.04% .

Mobile phone company Nokia ended 1.9% higher in its home market after Texas Instruments /zigman2/quotes/202237907/composite TXN -2.54% - which makes chips for the company - raised the lower end of its profit forecast.

Royal Bank of Scotland, Europe's second-largest bank, finished down 1.1% after it said it will meet analysts' estimates for second-half earnings growth despite narrower margins.

Another casualty in the U.K. banking sector was Asia-focused Standard Chartered /zigman2/quotes/200125072/delayed UK:STAN +0.24% , which added to Wednesday's declines by ended 1.7% lower.

European M&A news was headed up by Virgin Mobile, after its board rejected U.K. cable operator NTL's $1.4 billion offer, although majority owner Richard Branson on Thursday said a deal isn't far away.

Online gambling company PartyGaming ended 16.5% higher in London after it said that it has seen strong current trading in both poker and casino for the two months to Nov. 30 and that fiscal-year earnings before interest, tax, amortization and depreciation as well as revenue are likely to be ahead of market expectations.

And French spirits group Remy Cointreau rose 6% after it said that first-half net income more than doubled due to price increases, the refocusing of marketing investment, and cost controls. Looking ahead, Remy Cointreau said it still expects double-digit organic growth in full-year operating profit.

Write to Sarah Turner at sarah.turner@dowjones.com

/zigman2/quotes/204253697/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
£ 1,337.00
-13.20 -0.98%
Volume: 4.50M
April 19, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
0.04%
Market Cap
£108.87 billion
Rev. per Employee
£1.52M
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/zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
300.85 p
-2.10 -0.69%
Volume: 28.75M
April 19, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
5.02%
Market Cap
£61.27 billion
Rev. per Employee
£2.21M
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/zigman2/quotes/208495069/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 13.46
+0.07 +0.52%
Volume: 44.84M
April 19, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
23.17
Dividend Yield
0.30%
Market Cap
$119.03 billion
Rev. per Employee
$459,155
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/zigman2/quotes/203793198/delayed
IT : Italy: Milan
17.23
+0.11 +0.61%
Volume: 4.65M
April 19, 2021 5:35p
P/E Ratio
15.74
Dividend Yield
5.86%
Market Cap
€26.72 billion
Rev. per Employee
€1.09M
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/zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 74.12
+0.37 +0.50%
Volume: 1.44M
April 19, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
26.83
Dividend Yield
4.21%
Market Cap
$173.41 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
6,089.00 p
+35.00 +0.58%
Volume: 1.65M
April 19, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
13.09
Dividend Yield
6.71%
Market Cap
£99.12 billion
Rev. per Employee
£732,787
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201912487/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 60.65
-0.64 -1.04%
Volume: 1.11M
April 19, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
16.00
Dividend Yield
1.12%
Market Cap
$7.33 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.57M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202237907/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 187.06
-4.87 -2.54%
Volume: 5.33M
April 19, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
31.32
Dividend Yield
2.18%
Market Cap
$178.30 billion
Rev. per Employee
$482,033
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200125072/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
495.20 p
+1.20 +0.24%
Volume: 2.59M
April 19, 2021 4:35p
P/E Ratio
59.09
Dividend Yield
1.31%
Market Cap
£15.15 billion
Rev. per Employee
£194,812
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