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Hitt og þetta 25. apríl 2006

DJ EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING FROM DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

AMERICAN MARKETS OUTLOOK: U.S. stock markets are called to open slightly higher Tuesday, eyeing important data releases and first-quarter earning results from companies such as Amazon, Lucent, AT&T and Whirlpool.

FinSpread's Angus Campbell said investors want to see U.S. corporations providing returns for shareholders in the face of rising commodity prices.

Economic data scheduled for release includes consumer confidence, due at 1400 GMT.

"The strength of the labor market is certainly one thing that is contributing to (consumer) confidence and investors will not wish to see a figure much higher than forecast as it could force the Federal Reserve into making one more rate hike than expected," Campbell said.

Additionally, a shift in focus to technology stocks could "re-ignite the flame doused by an increasingly expensive dollar and sky-high oil prices" said Neill Pickering at Pacific Continental Securities.

"There has been no leadership in recent weeks, leaving the energy, basic materials and industry sectors to lead the pack," Pickering said. "However, once these tire, we expect monies to be moved into the tech sectors."

FinSpreads is calling the Dow Jones Industrial Average to open 10 points higher at 11,346, the S&P 500 up 0.5 points at 1308.6 and the Nasdaq 100 up 1.5 points at 1708.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: European markets are being pushed higher by upbeat top-line figures from car maker Renault and food producer Nestle, but the declines from oil giant BP and supermarket Tesco are taking the shine off the gains.

In London, the FTSE 100 index is up 0.2% at 6111.00, following a stronger-than-expected CBI Industrial trends report for April.

In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 index is up 0.2% at 6089.89, slipping from a year-high after the Ifo business climate index release. In Paris, the CAC 40 is up 0.4% at 5242.54.

Bunds and gilts are sharply lower after Germany's Ifo showed a surprise increase to 105.9. The June bund future is down 0.32 at 115.42, while the June gilt future is down 0.37 at 109.83.

On the currency market, the dollar is higher midday as it rebounds after recent losses incurred from the G-7's weekend comments calling on China to let its currency appreciate. The gains are being helped by Japanese talk of intervention and Japanese importer buying. The euro slipped to $1.2393, failing to get a lift from the latest German Ifo survey. The dollar rose to Y114.61 and the pound fell to $1.7857.

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TOP STORIES:

BP 1Q PROFIT DOWN 15% ON OUTPUT, TEXAS SHUT-DOWN AND TAX: BP PLC (BP) said net profit fell 15%, in spite of soaring oil prices and following a drop in oil and gas output, a Texas refinery shutdown and higher tax charges. (News Snap by Benoit Faucon)

NESTLE 1Q SALES UP 14%, REPEATS GUIDANCE: Nestle SA (NESN.VX) said strong demand for its beverages helped to propel first-quarter sales by 14% in the first quarter, and repeated its guidance for a higher full-year operating profit margin. (News Snap by Martin Gelnar)

GERMAN IFO BUSINESS CONFIDENCE PUSHES HIGHER: German business confidence continued its seemingly inexorable rise in April, according to the Ifo Institute, marking a five-month run of increasingly positive feedback. (Data Snap by Emily Barrett)

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INSIGHT & ANALYSIS FROM DOW JONES NEWSWIRES:

=FOREX FOCUS: Last weekend's Group of Seven communique mentioning China has given the yen a significant lift at the start of this week. (By Nicholas Hastings)

=CHARTING EUROPE: The euro retested its Monday high at $1.2420 against the greenback Tuesday morning and reached a new seven-month high at $1.2421. (By Axel Rudolph)

=FOCUS: The worldwide tightness in natural rubber supply will only intensify in the next five to seven years, as demand will increasingly outstrip supply, said speakers at the World Rubber Summit in Kuala Lumpur. (By Matthew Walls)

=THE SKEPTIC: Tesco's year-after-year outperformance of other U.K. retailers continued in FY06 with double-digit improvements in sales, profits, and dividends. (By Howard Wheeldon)

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STILL TO COME

ET/GMT COUNTRY/PERIOD
0745/1145 US Apr 22 ICSC Store Sales Index
0855/1255 US Apr 22 Redbook Retail Sales Index
1000/1400 US March Existing Home Sales
1000/1400 US April Richmond Fed Mfg Index
1000/1400 US April Conference Board Consumer
Confidence Index

1000/1400 US Tsy Secy Snow speaks to students
in Washington

1005/1405
US Pres Bush speaks on energy in
Washington

1230/1630 EU ECB Member Gonzalez-Paramo speaks
on global imbalances in the euro

and the dollar at a globalized

economy conference in Miami

1700/2100 US Apr
23 ABC/Washington Post Consumer
Confidence Index

N/A GER Call for bids for EUR6 billion tap
auction of 5-year notes

N/A EU ECB
Member Papademos presents ECB
Annual Report to European

Parliament in Brussels

N/A GER World Energy Dialogue 2006
conference, Hanover

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OTHER NEWS:

The euro zone's current account deficit widened in February to EUR5.6 billion from EUR0.7 billion the previous month. (Data Snap by Ilona Billington)

The euro-zone trade deficit narrowed on the month in February as imports fell while exports rose slightly. (Data Snap by Paul Hannon)

U.K. retail heavyweight Tesco PLC (TSCO.LN) reported a 17% jump in annual underlying earnings, and said up to GBP5 billion would be released from its property division over the next five years. (News Snap by Lilly Vitorovich)

U.K. industrial output continued to expand at a steady pace in April, said the Confederation of British Industry. (Data Snap by Paul Hannon)

Swedish truck maker Volvo AB (VOLVY) reported a 19% jump in first-quarter pretax profit and raised its outlook for both the North American and European markets.(News Snap by Maria Akerhielm)

Leisure group Whitbread PLC (WTB.LN) posted a 13% rise in underlying full-year profit and unveiled plans to dispose of some of its pub restaurants and expand on its Premier Travel Inn hotel and Costa Coffee chains. (News Snap by Michael Carolan)

Hagemeyer NV (35547.AE) reported an 16% rise in first-quarter sales and repeated its financial targets for this year. (News Snap by Fred Pals)

Game Group PLC (GMG.LN) said that full-year pretax profit dropped 71%, reflecting the end of the old product cycle. (News Snap by Anita Likus)

Schwarz Pharma AG (SRZ.XE) reported a sharp rise in net profit for the first quarter, reflecting another strong performance by the German pharmaceutical company's generics operations. (News Snap by Gangolf Schrimpf)

TeliaSonera AB (TLSN.SK), the Nordic region's largest telecommunications operator, reported a 16% increase in first-quarter net profit and pledged an annual additional dividend payment. (News Snap by Magnus Hansson)

Finnish energy company Fortum OYJ (FUM1V.HE) said net profit in the first quarter rose 5.2% on the year, driven by strong demand in an unusually cold winter and higher power prices. (News Snap by Ian Talley)

U.K. housebuilder McCarthy & Stone PLC (MCTY.LN) posted a slump in first-half net profit, as it chased higher reservation numbers at the price of margins. (News Snap by Isabelle Oderberg)

Austrian Airlines AG (AUA.VI) said its first-quarter net loss narrowed as rising passenger numbers boosted revenues, but high kerosine prices continued to weigh on the bottom line. (News Snap by Flemming Hansen and George Frey)

Austrian power supplier Oesterreichische Elektrizitaetswirtschafts AG, or Verbund (VER.VI), said its first-quarter 2006 net profit after minorities rose by 43%, mainly on high wholesale power prices. (News Snap by Flemming Emil Hansen)

Banco de Sabadell SA (SAB.MC) said its net profit increased 29% in the first quarter, helped by strong cost control and healthy loan growth. (News Snap by Christopher Bjork)

South African private hospital operator Network Healthcare Holdings Ltd. (NTC.JO) said it has agreed to buy the U.K.'s General Healthcare Group Ltd. from BC Partners (BCP.YY). (News Snap by Angus Macmillan)

UPM-Kymmene Oyj (UPM), the Finnish paper and packaging board producer, posted a 52% decrease in first-quarter net profit as higher production costs offset an increase in paper prices. (News Snap by Janina Pfalzer)

Swedish lock maker Assa Abloy AB(ASSA-B.SK) reported a 26% rise in first-quarter net profit and said it has launched a cost-cutting drive aimed at saving SEK600 million ($80 million) after three years. (News Snap by Maria Akerhielm)