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Hitt og þetta 12. apríl 2006

DJ EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING FROM DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

AMERICAN MARKETS OUTLOOK: U.S. stock markets are expected to open flat to lower Wednesday, as rising oil prices and an uncertain outlook for interest rates continue to curb equities gains.

"Rates worries continue to dampen market spirits, but good news from Circuit City who are announcing earnings today may divert fears that consumers are tightening their spending, boosting the markets," says Anthony Hill, analyst at FSW Europe.

Commerce Bancorp, Harley-Davidson and Lam Research are also set to report financial results Wednesday. Economic data set for release include the February trade balance, February imports and exports, the March Treasury budget and oil inventories.

"The up-and-coming earnings season may not be the center of attention as concern over the price of oil hitting record levels is dominating trading sessions at the moment," says Angus Campbell at FinSpreads.

FinSpreads is calling the Dow Jones Industrial Average to open flat at 11,089 and the Nasdaq 100 down 2 at 1702.4.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: European shares are mostly a touch lower at midday. In London, the FTSE 100 is down 0.5% at 5987.60, with declines from resource stocks outweighing gains by pharmaceuticals and tobacco shares and by shares of the London Stock Exchange itself. In Frankfurt, the DAX is down 0.4% at 5882.86 as high oil prices damp sentiment and investors act cautiously ahead of the Easter holidays. In Paris, the CAC is down 0.7% at 5078.99.

Rising oil prices are propping up bund and gilt prices. The June bund future is up 0.09 at 116.38, while the June gilt is up 0.08 at 111.26.

In the currency market, concern about the U.S.'s deteriorating trade picture is leaving the dollar mostly lower. The dollar is down against the yen at Y118.20. The euro is higher at $1.2153 and the pound is also up at $1.7555.

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TOP STORIES:

LSE SHARES SURGE AS NASDAQ RESUMES PURSUIT: Shares in the London Stock Exchange PLC (LSE.LN) surged in early trade after Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. (NDAQ) revealed late Tuesday it had acquired a 14.99% stake, making it the company's biggest single shareholder. (News Snap by Taska Manzaroli)

EU CUTS EURO-ZONE GROWTH FORECASTS FOR 2006: The euro-zone economy will probably grow a little more slowly than previously expected in the first three quarters of 2006, the European Commission said. (Data Snap by Paul Hannon)

IEA TRIMS 2006 WORLD OIL DEMAND GROWTH: The International Energy Agency Trimmed its global oil demand growth prediction for this year and said there was increasing evidence that surging petroleum product prices were crimping demand. (By Adam Smallman)

UK MARCH JOBLESS NUMBERS RISING QUICKLY: The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the U.K. rose sharply again in March, and has risen by more than 100,000 over the past year, National Statistics said. (Data Snap by Andrew Peaple)

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INSIGHT & ANALYSIS FROM DOW JONES NEWSWIRES:

=FOREX FOCUS: France and Italy have given euro bulls a lot to think about. (By Nicholas Hastings)

=THE SKEPTIC: Nasdaq has played a classic masterstroke, taking the London Stock Exchange's future into its own hands. (By Arindam Nag)

=THE SKEPTIC: Is separating the News Distribution businesses from those of retail and travel at WH Smith a precursor to selling some or all of them off? (By Howard Wheeldon)

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STILL TO COME

ET/GMT COUNTRY/PERIOD

1000/1400 GER IFO Institute for Economic Research
Quarterly Euro-Zone economic outlook
1030/1430 US Apr 7 US Energy Dept Gasoline Stocks
1030/1430 US Apr 7 US Energy Dept Crude Oil Stocks
1030/1430 US Apr 7 US Energy Dept Distillate Stocks
1100/1500 US Tsy Secy Snow speaks on Medicare in
Oxford, Miss.
1400/1800 US Mar Tsy Budget Statement
1600/2000 US Tsy Secy Snow speaks at University of
Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
1950/2350 JPN Mar Corp Goods Price Index
1950/2350 JPN Weekly Portfolio Flows

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OTHER NEWS:

Eurotunnel PLC (ETL.LN) asked creditors to extend the deadline for agreeing to a restructuring plan and postponed the publication of 2005 earnings, saying it is unable to give an opinion on the continuity of operations. (News Snap by Brian Lagrotteria)

Italian center-left leader Romano Prodi said that discussions would get underway in the next few days to select members of his Cabinet. (AP)

U.K. fashion and home furnishings retailer Laura Ashley PLC (ALY.LN) booked a 39% jump in full-year pretax profit and said it will reward beleaguered investors with its first dividend in nine years. (News Snap by Chi Dong)

Sage Group PLC (SGE.LN) said it doesn't plan to change its offer price after Norwegian company Visma ASA (VIS.OS) withdrew its recommendation for the U.K. accountancy software company's bid. (News Snap by Jessica Hodgson)

Energy costs again accounted for the bulk of German inflation in March, though the rate was lower than initially thought, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed. (Data Snap by Emily Barrett)

Swiss industrial company Sulzer AG (SUN.EB) reported a 34% jump in first quarter orders and said growth momentum is expected to remain strong in the quarters ahead. (News Snap by Goran Mijuk)

In the biggest acquisition in the short history of Russian retail, food retailer Pyaterochka NV (FIVE.LN) said it had agreed to merge with rival Perekryostok in a deal that values the latter at $1.37 billion. (News Snap by Andrew Langley)

U.K. retail and financial services giant GUS PLC (GUS.LN) reported mixed fiscal second-half sales, with its credit checking and information services business Experian delivering record sales growth in fiscal 2006. (News Snap by Lilly Vitorovich)

Luxury retailer Burberry Group PLC (BRBY.LN) said that fourth-quarter retail sales rose 16% as shoppers snapped up its spring collection. (News Snap by Elena Berton)

SABMiller PLC (SAB.JO) posted a 5% organic rise in full-year lager volumes and said its financial performance was in line with management expectations. (News Snap by Michael Carolan)

U.K. books-to-stationery retailer W.H. Smith PLC (SMWH.LN) reported a 4.2% increase in first-half pretax profit and said it will separate its retail and news distribution wholesale businesses. (News Snap by Carlos Dunn)