By Sarah Turner
European markets lost ground on Wednesday, although shares of chip makers were boosted by a positive update from Texas Instruments late Tuesday. Oil stocks edged off lows of the day after crude-oil futures spiked higher following inventory data.
In late trading, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index shed 0.2% to 271.92, while the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx Index gave up 0.2% to 285.77. The Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index retreated 0.3% to 3125.6, while the Dow Jones Stoxx 50 Index weakened 0.3% to 2988.5.
At the close, London's benchmark FTSE-100 Share Index slid 0.4% to 5004. Germany's DAX 30 Index shed 0.2% to 4557, while France's CAC-40 Index edged down 0.2% to 4171.
The euro continued its modest recovery against the dollar since rejections by France and Holland of the European Union referendum.
European semiconductor stocks profited from Texas Instruments /zigman2/quotes/202237907/composite TXN +0.36% raising guidance. Philips Electronics rose 2.5%, while STMicroelectronics gained 2.6% in Paris. STMicro also announced details of planned job cuts, saying it will cut 2,300 jobs in Europe by mid-2006 to improve profits.
News from the U.S. Energy Department that U.S. petroleum supplies fell 3 million barrels in the week ended June 3, sent crude-oil futures careening higher late in the day. France's Total ended up 0.2%, while Royal Dutch ended 0.5% weaker.
European deal news centered on French media company Vivendi Universal, after IAC/InterActiveCorp said it sold a 5.4% stake in Vivendi for $3.4 billion, leaving the unit 100% owned by NBC Universal. NBC Universal is 80% held by General Electric /zigman2/quotes/208495069/composite GE +0.44% and 20% held by Vivendi Universal.
IAC also settled its tax litigation with Vivendi. Vivendi shares eased 0.2%.
Shares in HVB Group gained 1.9% in German trade on hopes that a tie-up with Italian bank Unicredito Italiano is imminent, following a newspaper report that the two banks have agreed on a management structure for the merged entity, AFX News reported.
EADS shares came under scrutiny, down 0.5% following a report that the parent company of Airbus is willing to give up aircraft loans from European governments under certain conditions as a way to restart talks.
Turning to major European earnings updates, U.K. banking group Royal Bank of Scotland rose 1% after it said bad debts are rising, but not as much as loans are growing. William Morrison /zigman2/quotes/205533138/delayed UK:MRW +0.51% , the U.K. supermarket operator struggling to integrate Safeway, fell 2% after warning that fiscal year pretax profits excluding goodwill amortization and exceptional items would be in a £50 million to £150 million range.
Meanwhile, French cognac maker Remy Cointreau added 2.5%, reversing earlier losses, following its fiscal year to March 31 profit tumbling 68.2% to €24.2 million, hit by a €52.3 million write-down of some brands.
In currency markets, the euro rose against the dollar to $1.2308, compared with $1.2286 in New York late Tuesday. Also, the pound fell slightly to $1.8345 from $1.8347.
Write to Sarah Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org