Milan bourse slides as Finmeccanica drops amid scandal

Other European markets end trading in weak positions

Milan bourse slides as Finmeccanica drops amid scandal

Milan, February 15 - Italy's major stock market ended the week on a lower note Friday, leading a downward slide among its European peers as investors pulled out of scandal-plagued defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica. On the Milan Stock Exchange, the FTSE Mib fell by 0.33% in trading, to end the day at 16,489 points. The spread between Italy's benchmark 10-year bond and its German counterpart closed at 273 basis points Friday, with a yield of 4.38%. The spread is a useful indicator of confidence in the Italian economy. Investors were discouraged Friday when the Indian government cancelled a controversial contract and Finmeccanica president Giuseppe Orsi resigned over an international corruption probe related to the Indian contract. They drove down Finmeccanica shares by 4.13% to close the day at 3.99 euros. Finmeccanica, which is one-third owned by the Italian government, has been on a downward trend since Tuesday's arrest of Orsi. Over the past four sessions, the troubled company has shed 16% of its value as the Indian government first threatened and on Friday finally cancelled the helicopter contract in question. Finmeccanica is Italy's biggest defence contractor, its largest hi-tech industrial group, and a major global player, employing some 70,000 people. The troubles with Finmeccanica more than overshadowed strong returns from energy giant Eni, which posted a net profit Friday of 7.79 billion euros for fiscal 2012, a 13.5% increase over the previous year. Net profit in the final quarter of fiscal 2012 stood at 1.46 billion euros. In other European markets, Frankfurt's DAX fell by 0.49% to 7,593.51 points, while London's FTSE 100 was essentially unchanged, gaining just 0.01% to close at 6,337.07 points. Paris's CAC 40 ended the day lower, falling by 0.25% to close at 3,660.37 points. Spain's IBEX 35 closed trading fully 1.18% lower at 8,150.20 points.

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