Euro Tech Shares Slow After Morning Freefall

STOCKHOLM (04/17/2000) - European investors saw their IT share values plunge further in early trading today, but by lunch time the free fall appeared to be slowing with prices firming up and several market indices recovering briefly before resuming their decline more slowly.

Today's global share sell-off, led by investors getting out of Internet, IT and telecommunications positions, was expected as America's tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange seemingly was in free fall late last week, dropping almost 10 percent on the week's final trading day last Friday. [See "Tech Stocks Take Beating as Wall Street Nosedives," April 14.]The European slump today followed news that Asian share markets earlier in the day had slipped significantly, as fallout from last week's U.S.-led share nosedive spread its way across the globe. [See "Asia Tech Stocks Take a Beating," April 17.]In Germany, the tech-heavy Neuer Markt had recovered to 5,657.89 points by noon central European time today, which although 5.42 percent lower than the previous close of 5,981.96 points was up significantly from a low of 5,289.33 points in earlier trading.

Shares in Deutsche Telekom AG's Internet service provider subsidiary T-Online International AG, which started trading on the Neuer Markt today, were trading at 33.50 euros (US$32.12) at noon, up from an opening price of 28.5 euros.

France's Nouveau Marche slumped deeper, and at noon was down almost 10 percent at 4,084.13 points, as compared to the previous close of 4,526.31 points. The Paris Bourse all-share index opened this morning at 6,065.71, falling to 5,752.44 over the next two hours before recovering to 5,896.09 at 2 p.m. and continuing to head upwards.

French technology stocks were harder hit, however, with the Paris Bourse information technology index falling from its opening level of 6,071.37 to 5,471.08 around midday, a decline of 9.89 percent.

In London, the FTSE 100 index reacted swiftly this morning, hitting a six month low within a few minutes after opening. The benchmark lost four percent of its value, dropping 260 points to 5,917 points. By 11 a.m., however, the FTSE 100 had recovered somewhat to 5,965.4 points.

Technology stocks took the hardest hit of the day, with the techMARK 100 index by 11 a.m. down 287.52 points to 3240.61, a loss of 8.15 percent from the previous close.

Among the day's biggest individual losers was security vendor Baltimore Technologies PLC, which by midday had experienced a more than 32 percent drop in share price. Online auctioneer QXL.com PLC was also hit hard. Its shares were down over 24 percent.

In Sweden, meanwhile, shares were led down by market heavyweight L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co.'s more than six percent slide. The Stockholm Stock Exchange general index was down over three percent in noon-time trading. The market was still showing signs of slight recovery, however, as the index earlier this morning had been down by over four percent.

Additional reporting by Laura Rohde in London and Peter Sayer in Paris.

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