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Europe: Paris stocks stabilise after terror attacks


[PARIS] The Paris stock market held its ground on Monday in nervous but volatile trade following the devastating terror attacks on the French capital while neighbouring European markets finished just ahead.

The deadly late-night assault on Friday in Paris, which left 129 people dead and 352 injured, also sent the euro tumbling on fears for security in Europe and its effect on the already struggling eurozone economy.

"Equity markets remained under pressure ... as the attacks in Paris on Friday caused high uncertainty," said Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

"The tragic events limited any risk appetite and caused nervous trading conditions." The benchmark CAC 40 index of top French companies dived 1.1 per cent in opening deals, then bounced briefly into gains before closing barely changed, down just 0.08 per cent.

German stocks also bounced back and forth before closing up by a whisker.

British stocks held in positive territory as the FTSE 100 index added 0.46 per cent on the day.

"In a sign of resilience there is no sign of the panicked trading that could have been justifiably expected from the European indices," noted Spreadex trader Connor Campbell.

The Paris tragedy added however to uncertainty in already nervous markets, which ended last week on a low owing to increasing worries about the global economy.

Sentiment was also dented by news that Japan fell back into recession in the third quarter.

"In the aftermath of the weekend tragedy it is little wonder that investor sentiment is dented this morning with sectors related to tourism and travel all taking a hit," added London Capital Group analyst Brenda Kelly.

The top faller in Paris was hotels giant Accor, with luxury goods groups LVMH not far behind, as investors fretted over a likely drop in consumer demand after the attacks and hoteliers and restaurants eye a bookings slump for the months ahead.

Accor's share price tumbled 4.7 per cent to 39.52 euros while LVMH lost 1.39 per cent to 160.15 euros.

Europe's airlines also took a major hit, with Germany's Lufthansa dropping 2.3 per cent to 13.05 euros when Frankfurt closed.

And in London, British Airways owner IAG lost 3.1 per cent to 574.4 pence, and low-cost rival EasyJet shed 0.4 per cent to 1,783 pence.

However, Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at stockbroker Interactive Investor, noted that markets were resilient on the whole.

"In a major sign of defiance, equity markets have fallen far less than expected and, outside of tourism and transport stocks, remain resilient." Across in Asia, markets mostly fell Monday with airline stocks also taking a beating.

Japan Airlines sank almost three percent and rival ANA was down 3.5 per cent, while in Sydney Virgin Australia plunged 6.5 per cent. Indonesian flag carrier Garuda also retreated more than one percent, while Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific was 2.7 per cent lower.

Tokyo stocks shed one percent after data showed that Japanese gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 0.2 per cent in the July-September period, or an annualised contraction of 0.8 per cent, marking the second straight quarterly decline - considered a technical recession.

Selling also hit the euro, which was already under pressure from expectations the European Central Bank will loosen monetary policy to shore up the eurozone.

Wall Street stocks edged slightly up.

Almost three hours into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 17,304.48, up 0.34 per cent while the broad-based S&P 500 added 0.34 per cent to 2,029.30. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.16 per cent at 4,920.09 points.

US investors meanwhile were not impressed with the US$12.2 billion merger of Marriott International and Starwood to create the world's largest hotel chain bringing together such famous institutions as Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, W, Westin and Sheraton.

Marriott's shares fell 2.4 per cent shortly after the opening bell but recovered to US$72.59, off 0.2 per cent. Starwood shed 6.1 per cent to US$70.37.