(ANSA) – Milan, October 31 – European stock markets closed essentially unvaried Wednesday following new eurozone unemployment figures showing the number of people out of work in the area reached another record high in September and as US markets opened lower after a two-day shutdown caused by super-storm Sandy. Of Europe’s main markets, Milan and Spain were the only two positive performers. Milan’s FTSE-MIB index closed up 0.12%, at 15,539.71, while the IBEX 35 ended the day up 0.11%. Paris’ CAC 40 closed 0.87% lower, while Frankfurt’s DAX was down slightly less, at 0.33%. Of Europe’s main markets, only London’s FTSE-100 index performed worse, closing down 1.15%. According to figures released Wednesday by Eurostat, the EU’s official statistics agency, total jobless rate in the eurozone hit 11.6% in September, the highest rate on record since 1995, and up from 11.5% in August. Eurostat said that 18.49 million people were unemployed in the eurozone in September, after 146,000 more people lost their jobs during the month. Milan markets were boosted in part by the positive performance of Fiat Industrial, the trucks unit spun off from Fiat earlier this year, which gained 3.02% after releasing quarterly results. Fiat’s separately-listed auto unit ended the day down 4.33% on the day after its own quarterly results which pointed once again to the difficulties facing the company as the European auto market continues to contract amid the economic crisis. The banking sector was also hit by sales, with shares in leading banks all closing lower. Investors meanwhile piled back into shares of scandal-plagued Finmeccanica, pushing the shares up 2.8% Wednesday. Real estate group Prysmian also gained, closing up 2.13% after Citigroup analysts wrote that the company is on track to meet its 2012 targets. Telecoms giant Telecom Italia also gained Wednesday (+1.65%), boosted by positive results at its Brazilian mobile unit, Tim Brasil. Meanwhile Italy’s borrowing costs declined Wednesday as bond-interest rates closed at 4.94%, slightly lower than Tuesday’s 4.99%. The spread between Italian bond rates and the German equivalent reached 348 basis points, slightly lower than Tuesday’s 351 basis point differential.
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di Giovanni Pastore