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AFP News brief: European shares climb on takeover talk

EXTRACT: The price of shares in Royal Dutch Shell climbed 2.18 percent to 1,871 pence and energy peer BP rose 2.45 percent to 584.5 pence amid vague talk of a tie-up between the pair. 

Europe’s main stock markets rose on Friday on speculation about possible private equity takeovers and further consolidation across a number of sectors.

At the halfway stage, London’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares climbed 0.62 percent to 6,619.90 points.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 rose 0.79 percent to 7,558.49 points and in Paris the CAC 40 won 0.81 percent to 6,075.57.

The euro stood at 1.3475 dollars.

US shares posted a lackluster showing on Thursday as Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke voiced hope that America’s economy would not be swamped by a lingering housing slump.

The Fed chief acknowledged the housing market remained in a downturn during the first months of the year, but said he did not expect the nation’s housing slowdown to spill over too much to the wider economy.

Japanese share prices ended the week on a downbeat note, falling for a second day as investors awaited a slew of banking results for fresh leads, dealers said.

British confectionery and soft drink giant Cadbury Schweppes gained 2.08 percent to 687.5 pence in London on talk of a possible private-equity bid for its US beverage arm worth 8.0 billion pounds (11.7 billion euros, 15.8 billion dollars), dealers said.

The price of shares in Royal Dutch Shell climbed 2.18 percent to 1,871 pence and energy peer BP rose 2.45 percent to 584.5 pence amid vague talk of a tie-up between the pair.

EADS jumped 3.30 percent to 23.49 euros in Paris on reports that Dubai International Capital is considering taking a stake in the European defence company.

“This is driving the shares, although it was already a topic a couple of months ago,” said one trader, who wished to remain anonymous.

In Frankfurt, the German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer gained 3.46 percent to 51.2 euros on sector consolidation hopes.

A report Thursday suggested that General Electric was close to a deal to sell its plastics division to Saudi conglomerate Saudi Basic Industries Corp for almost 11 billion dollars (8.17 billion euros).

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.08 percent to 13,476.72 points on Thursday, after striking a record close of 13,487.53 points a day earlier.

The tech-rich Nasdaq composite fell 0.32 percent to 2,539.38 points and the Standard Poor’s 500 broad-market index lost 0.09 percent to close at 1,512.75.
On Friday, the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Nikkei-225 index of leading shares dropped 0.57 percent to close at 17,399.58 points.

Dealers said a sluggish overnight performance on Wall Street hurt sentiment and a weak yen was not enough to lift the market’s mood amid caution ahead of a weekend meeting of Group of Eight finance ministers.

Hong Kong’s key Hang Seng Index lost 0.43 percent to end at 20,904.84 points.

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