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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 20:06 GMT 21:06 UK
US shares flat after tricky week
A Wall Street trader takes a rest from the week's exertions
Wall Street has seen a busy week
US shares closed the day flat after a rough week, with stronger gains on European markets on Friday.

The Dow Jones index of blue-chip shares closed up 0.14%, with the Nasdaq up 0.62% and the S&P 500 ahead 0.41%.

European and Asian stocks had earlier made up some of the ground lost through days of sharp fluctuations.

The week has produced some of the heaviest share falls for four years, amid concerns about inflation, interest rates and global growth.

Cautious rebound

The FTSEurofirst index of leading European shares lost 4% during the week, its steepest decline since July 2002.

In the US, Friday's uptick followed falls of 291 points on the Dow Jones index during the previous two days.

Earlier, the European rebound had proved patchy.

Good corporate results had driven markets higher, with British Airways turning in profits up more than 20% and French bank BNP increasing its earnings by 17%.

In France, the Cac 40 index added 35.88 points to 4,944.57, while the German Dax index ended up 6.2 at 5,672.28.

But London's FTSE 100 finished the day down 14.20 points, or 0.3%, at 5,657.40, marking an overall decline of 7% in two weeks.

Changing views

Investors said the steep sell-off earlier this week was sparked by higher-than-expected inflation figures in the US, which had fanned fears of further interest rate rises in the world's largest economy.

Such rises would put a brake on consumer spending and corporate investment, squeezing profits and jeopardising growth in the global economy.

On top of that, many of the main stock indexes were trading near record levels. Investors said that while they were optimistic about future prospects, there were concerns that some shares had become overvalued.

Analysts said volatility was likely to be less severe in coming sessions.

"Our view is that a consolidation phase, in which the markets trade sideways for a time, is likely to follow," said Michael Lenhoff of Brewin Dolphin Securities.

The cautious showing in Europe and the US followed similar behaviour in Asia.

Tokyo's Nikkei closed 0.4% higher after news of better-than-expected economic growth in the first three months to March.

Sydney's main index ended 0.4% higher, Seoul's climbed by 0.5% and Hong Kong's rose by 0.3%.

But India's Sensex had the most dramatic fall, down 3.9% after a 7% slide on Thursday.


FTSE 100
23.70 0.44%
19.54 0.34%
Cac 40
14.48 0.38%
Dow Jones
78.53 0.76%
35.31 1.58%
S&P 500
11.22 1.02%
BBC Global 30
20.65 0.36%
Data delayed by at least 15 minutes

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