Record numbers from Eurostar fail to lift European shares, healthcare heading lower after Novartis reports quarterly incomes below expectations. As Grace Pascoe reports, AkzoNobel, SAP and Ball Corp's 7 billion offer for Britain's Rexam were also the talk of the markets.
Eurostar quarterly sales UP on record passenger numbers. Nearly 3 million customers travelled between the UK and the continent between April and June. That's an apparent rebound from the first quarter - when terror attacks in Paris and a tunnel fire depressed numbers. But overall for the first half, sales are still down by 2% year on year. Among the other headliners: AkzoNobel. It says tight cost controls are paying off. The Dutch chemicals and paint producer on track, it says, to meet 2015 targets. But SAP has posted a mixed bag of quarterly results. Revenues topped expectations but a surge in lower-margin cloud software pushed profits down to the low end of forecasts. And shares in Drugmaker Novartis were hurting badly. Weak eyecare sales have hit the Swiss drugmaker's growth story. That undoing any hope it would upgrade its 2015 outlook. It also blamed a strengthening dollar - though for European stocks that will mean a weaker euro as a key driver of share prices to come. Says Jan Randolph of IHS Global Insight. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT, DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RISK, JAN RANDOLPH, SAYING: "We are returning to the old story of U.S. growth, U.S. interest rates moving, tightening first and Europe delaying that, Mario Draghi has been very clear about where he wants to take monetary policy. I think that all adds up to a weaker euro, a stronger dollar and I think because of that stocks will tend to egg upwards." In other corporate news of the day, EU antitrust regulators are probing the Ball-Rexam merger. Ball Corp's 7 billion dollar offer for Britain's Rexam would combine the world's two largest drinks can makers, controlling over a fifth of the global market. Regulators say the deal could lead to higher prices for companies and consumers. A decision will come by November 25th.