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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
Tech scare hits global markets
European stockmarkets: FTSE 100, Dax, Cac 40
Stockmarkets around the world are ending the week in turmoil, with share prices heading south amid highly volatile trading.

Traders now say that investors have lost nearly all confidence in the markets, amid concerns that firms in the US and elsewhere will fall well short of profit expectations.

Markets at Friday close
Wall Street Dow Jones: 9,474.21 - down 28.59 points
Nasdaq: 1,504.74 - up 7.88
FTSE 100: 4,630.8 - down 141.1
Frankfurt Dax: 4,303.85 - down 166.15
Paris Cac 40: 3,843 - down 114
Tokyo Nikkei: 10920 - down 224
Hong Kong Hang Seng: 10,955 - down 163
A sharp drop in US consumer confidence, and other data suggesting that the country's economic recovery will be weak at best, added to the gloom.

Hardest hit were - yet again - technology, media and telecoms shares, which fell to their lowest levels in five years, before partially recovering later in the day.

In Europe, top companies like Vodafone, Nokia, Vivendi and Deutsche Telekom were crowding the ranks of the biggest losers.

For investors, the market turmoil caps a week of hefty losses.

Daily lows

The low point of the day came at about 1400 GMT although since most markets have stabilised, albeit deep in the red.

Wall Street's benchmark Dow Jones index fell by as much as 241 points to 9,261, while the Nasdaq - home to many hi-tech firms - plunged 50 points to 1,445.

But US markets later showed signs of stabilising, with the Dow Jones closing down 28.59 points at 9,474.21, and the Nasdaq finsishing the day slightly up at 1,504.74 .

In the UK, the FTSE100 index of the country's largest listed firms was at one point off 4% at 4,565.

The FTSE closed off its lows at 4630.8, still down more than 140 points on the day.

Germany's Dax index dropped as much as 217 points or just under 5% to 4,252, while France's Cac 40 fell 171 points or 4.3% to 3,785.

Like the Dow and Nasdaq, the two European indices later regained some of the lost ground.

Earlier on Friday, Japan's Nikkei closed with a 2% loss, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng settled 1.5% lower.

Technology, media, telecoms melee

The latest round of selling was triggered by a profit warning from Lucent, the world's largest maker of telecoms equipment, on Thursday.

More bad news came from software firm Adobe, which cut its earnings forecast, telecoms firm Sprint PCS, which warned about mobile phone subscriber growth, and Vodafone, which reported higher costs at its Japanese subsidiary.

Rounding off the bad news, analysts at investment bank Merrill Lynch downgraded their assessment of several wireless telecoms networks.

The fall-out was swiftly felt in Europe, with the list of losers reading like a who's who of the continent's technology elite.

Deutsche Telekom fell below the symbolic 10 euro level again, raising fresh questions about the future of its chief executive Ron Sommer.

Alcatel of France - in the same business as Lucent - saw its shares fall to a record low of 9.93 euro. The firm was hit by market rumours that its bonds could be downgraded to junk status.

Spain's Telefonica was at its lowest level in nine months, while loss-making rival Jazztel plunged 12.6% - on top of a 19% loss on Thursday - following a deal that gives its creditors an 88% share of the company.

In the UK, telecoms firms Vodafone (down 4%), Cable & Wireless (down 6%) and BT Group (down 3.6%) all suffered, as did cable group Telewest (down 11%) chip designer ARM Holdings (down 4.3%) and software firm Logica (5.4%).

Vodafone's stock is now at its lowest level for four-and-a-half years.

London's biggest faller, though, was old economy stalwart Corus, the steel group, amid market rumours that a profit warning is imminent.

Weak economic data

David Thwaites of investment bank BNP Paribas said "worries about a recovery in corporate earnings" had led to "the usual TMT [technology, media, telecoms] rout".

Bad news from the economy compounded the mood on the markets. In the US, a closely-watched survey showed a far steeper than expected drop in consumer confidence.

And while separate figures showed that US industrial production rose in May, the increase - just 0.2% up on the previous month - came in below Wall Street analysts' forecasts.

On Thursday, investors were spooked by a surprise fall in US retail sales. Consumer spending has been the key factor in sustaining the US economy over the past year.

Any sign of weakness there is seen as a severe threat for the tentative recovery of the country's economy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jeff Randall
"We have had bad corporate news"
Chris Giles,The Financial Times
"It has not been a good time for people owning shares"
View market data
Launch marketwatch
The Markets: 9:29 UK
FTSE 100 5760.40 -151.7
Dow Jones 11380.99 -119.7
Nasdaq 2243.78 -28.9
FTSE delayed by 15 mins, Dow and Nasdaq by 20 mins
See also:

14 Jun 02 | Business
13 Jun 02 | Business
13 Jun 02 | Business
09 Jun 02 | Business
12 Jun 02 | Business
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