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Hitt og þetta 28. apríl 2006

DJ EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING FROM DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

AMERICAN MARKETS OUTLOOK: U.S. stock markets are set to open down Friday, taking their lead from Europe. The focus will be on economic data and the dollar, which is lower against most major currencies. The main focus will be on the Employment Cost Index and first-quarter GDP figures, due to be released at 1230 GMT. Andrew Garrood, head of sales and trading at Cantor Index, expects the Employment Cost Index to rise 0.9% and GDP to increase between 4.8% and 4.9%.

Cantor Index calls the Dow Jones Industrial Average to open down 25 points at 11,357, the Nasdaq to open down 6-7 points at 2337.95-2338.95 and the S&P 500 to open down 2 points at 1307.7.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: European shares are lower around midday, with energy companies leading the decline after the cost of crude oil fell below $71 a barrel overnight. Eni and Total are the biggest decliners. Euro-zone data were also in focus, with industrial confidence up for the fifth straight month in April. Consumer confidence was also higher.

The FTSE 100 is down 0.36% at 6037.90. Yell is the biggest faller on news of its EUR3.07 billion offer for Telefonica's TPI amid concern the company is paying too much for the telephone directories company. Yell fell 2.74% to 515 pence. BG Group fell 2.10% to 745 pence, with investors speculating that the interest rate hike in China Thursday could cause the world's second largest consumer of oil to import less.

The DAX is down 0.78% at 6020.53. Traders say despite lower prices, the market is still burdened by weak sentiment from Asia. DaimlerChrysler is down, continuing Thursday's losses. Siemens is down on a JP Morgan downgrade to neutral.

The CAC 40 is down 0.39% at 5193.37.

Bunds futures are lower following stronger-than-expected euro-zone data. M3 money supply accelerated to 8.6% on the year in March, while the three-month average rose to 8.1%. June bunds are down 0.06 at 115.29. Gilts are down 0.22 at 109.32.

The dollar is down on late New York levels. At 1020 GMT, it was at Y114.30, the euro was at $1.2544 and the pound was at $1.8075.

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TOP STORIES:

YELL BIDS EUR3.07B FOR TELEFONICA'S TPI: Yell Group PLC (YELL.LN) said it is making a EUR3.07 billion offer for Spanish directories company Telefonica Publicidad e Informacion S.A. (TFI.MC), the latest purchase in the U.K. group's expansion drive. (News Snap by Jessica Hodgson)

GERMAN RETAILERS DESPAIR IN MARCH: German retail sales plummeted in March, quashing hopes of a gradual recovery in consumer demand in the first quarter of this year. (Data Snap by Emily Barrett)

VW 1Q NET PFT UP, BUT MISSES ESTIMATES: German automaker Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) reported that first-quarter net profit more than quadrupled due to rising car sales, but the results still fell well short of analysts' expectations. (News Snap by Christoph Rauwald)

SANTANDER 1Q NET PFT +26%; LOANS, FEES SURGE: Santander Central Hispano SA (STD) posted a 26% rise in first-quarter net profit, lifted by strong lending growth in Latin America and Spain. (News Snap by Christopher Bjork)

EURO-ZONE CONFIDENCE PICKED UP IN APRIL: Businesses operating in the 12 countries that share the euro continued to gain confidence in April, while consumers began to share in the upbeat mood. (Data Snap by Paul Hannon)

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INSIGHT & ANALYSIS FROM DOW JONES NEWSWIRES:

=FOREX FOCUS: Dollar weakness may have been helping the pound to escape the worst of the U.K.'s economic uncertainties. (By Nicholas Hastings)

=FOCUS: China's decision to raise interest rates is giving pause to some base-metal bulls, while signs that the U.S. will keep rates on hold puts precious metal prices on more solid footing, participants said. (By James Attwood)

=THE SKEPTIC: The lawsuit filed by Dutch insurance firm Delta Lloyd against its British parent Aviva shows how hard it is push through corporate governance reforms among the stubborn old school mandarins in the Netherlands. (By Arindam Nag)

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STILL TO COME

ET/GMT
0600/1100 GER Economic Minister Glos presents new
growth forecasts, Berlin
0630/1130 US Fed Governor Bies speaks on risk
management in banking and financial
services in Raleigh, N.C.
0700/1200 EU ECB Member Gonzalez-Paramo speaks at
conference in Malaga, Spain
0730/1230 US 1Q, Advance GDP
0730/1230 US 1Q, Employment Cost Index
0845/1345 US Apr University Of Michigan Consumer
Sentiment Index, final (mid-April 89.2)
0900/1400 US Apr Chicago PMI
1030/1530 US Treasury Secretary Snow speaks at
Cincinnati, State College
1300/1800 US Treasury Secretary Snow speaks in
Florence, Ky.
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OTHER NEWS:

Money supply in the euro zone rose strongly in March, buoyed by robust demand for credit lending and fueling expectations for an interest rate increase at one of the next European Central Bank governing council meetings. (Data Snap by Klaus Brune)

Inflation in the euro zone has returned to its January peak, driven by a fresh surge in oil prices. (Data Snap by Emily Barrett)

Mitchells & Butlers PLC (MAB.LN) posted a 4.3% rise in second-quarter underlying sales growth and said it would return at least GBP500 million to shareholders after a refinancing. (News Snap by Michael Carolan)

The backing by European authorities of Sanofi-Aventis's (SNY) Acomplia lifts uncertainty about the anti-obsesity drug's safety, and it may pave the way for the potential blockbuster's approval in the U.S. (News Snap by Laetitia Fontaine)

U.K. consumer confidence rebounded in April as consumers became more optimistic about the outlook for the economy and their own financial prospects. (News Snap by Paul Hannon)

Danish pharmaceutical Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO) posted an unexpected 2% decline in its first-quarter net profit as financial expenses and higher sales costs from a U.S. product launch outweighed a 23% jump in sales. (News Snap by Frances Schwartzkopff)

Erste Bank der Oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG (EBS.VI), or Erste Bank, said first-quarter net profit increased 50% on the back of a strong performance in central and eastern Europe.(News Snap by Flemming Emil Hansen)

French consumer confidence fell for the third consecutive month in April as households grew more pessimistic about their living standards, according to data released by the national statistics agency. (Data Snap by David Gauthier-Villars)

French producer prices rose in March because of a new pick-up in energy and metals prices, national statistics agency Insee said. (Data Snap by David Gauthier-Villars)

DSM NV (00981.AE) said that first quarter net profit rose 23%, mainly due to better market conditions and cost savings. (News Snap by Tjeerd Wiersma)

German sportswear company Puma AG Rudolf Dassler Sport (PUM.XE) said its first quarter net profit rose on strong sales, especially in the U.S. and Asia, despite high marketing costs associated with the upcoming World Cup of soccer and its Phase IV strategic initiative. (News Snap by George Frey)