Thursday, July 5, 2007

LONDON (AP) — World stock markets rose yesterday, with shares in Hong Kong and South Korea closing at new highs and European indexes buoyed by shares of hotel companies after Hilton Hotels Corp. agreed to be bought by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP.

U.S. markets were closed for the Independence Day holiday.

The FTSE 100 Index gained 0.5 percent to 6,673.10 in London, while in Germany the benchmark DAX index was up 0.3 percent to 8,075.26, rising for a second day. France’s CAC-40 climbed 0.5 percent to 6,098.08.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.10 percent to close at 18,178.72 points. The index has now gained 1.79 percent over the past five sessions.

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent to close at a record at 22,218.55, while the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, ended up 1.8 percent at 1,838.41, after touching an all-time high of 1,838.82 during the session.

Hotel stocks dominated in Europe after Hilton Hotels said it agreed to be taken over by Blackstone Group LP for $20.1 billion in cash. The deal values the company at $26 billion including debt.

“European hotel stocks were all boosted by the news this morning as speculation mounted that other hoteliers may be targets also,” said Victoria Savage, a trader at CMC Markets in London.

Shares of Accor rose 10.3 percent to $97.44, Millennium & Copthorne PLC gained 4 percent to $13.67 in London, while Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC gained 3.9 percent to $26.36 in London.

German shares were led by laundry detergent and soap maker Henkel KGaA, which jumped 3.6 percent to $54.50, putting it near a 52-week high.

Automotive parts supplier and tire maker Continental AG rose 1.6 percent to close at $144.81. DaimlerChrysler AG dipped more than 0.5 percent to $79.27 as it reported slower monthly sales from its Mercedes Car Group in June and in the first six months of the year.

Leading the gains in Hong Kong was the city’s exchange operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, which ended up 5.7 percent to a record of $16.06.

South Korean shares also closed at a record high, led by shipbuilders and financial stocks, as analysts forecast gains to be extended on expectations of improved second-quarter earnings.

In Japan, Imperial Hotel Ltd. jumped 10.24 percent to $44.10 on a Nikkei business newspaper report that Cerberus may sell its 40 percent stake in the hotel chain to one of the local real estate developers Mitsui Fudosan Co. or Mitsubishi Estate Co.

Mitsui Fudosan gained 2.32 percent to $28.93, and Mitsubishi Estate Co. rose 2.69 percent to $28.11.

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