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Key European Indexes Close Sharply Lower

September 19, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Key stock indexes in Germany and France fell to new bear-market lows Wednesday, sliding through their worst levels of midsummer, as the economic outlook for the region continues to dim.

The German DAX index slumped 164.21 points, or 5%, to 3,124.92, its lowest level since 1997. The French CAC index dropped 3.6% to 3,000.98, its lowest since 1998.

Other European markets also fell sharply. The Italian market sank 2.9%, the British market lost 4% and the Dutch market tumbled 4.9%.

A French government report Wednesday showed that industrial production in July fell 1%, its biggest drop in nine months.

On Tuesday, the German car industry said August sales slid 4.7%.

"Investors have to be able to know what economic growth, and therefore profit growth, is going to be," said Michael Stam, who helps manage $5.4 billion at Fortis Investment Management in Paris. "The problem is they just don't know."

European markets also have been riled by worries about leading insurance companies, whose assets have been hammered by the plunge in their stock holdings.

Swiss Life, the biggest life-insurance company in Switzerland, on Wednesday reported a deeper-than-expected loss for the first half, sending its shares down 18% to a 10-year low.

"Investor confidence has disappeared again," said Peter Cogliatti, a trader at Williams de Broe in London. "Every time you think things can't get any worse, they do."

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