LONDON (CNN) - Europe's main bourses closed higher Wednesday, partly recovering from sharp falls after Tuesday's terrorist attacks in the U.S.|
Insurers and airlines earlier dragged the bourses down as attention focused on the aftermath of the disaster in America.
But financial markets started to recover after commodity and currency prices began to stabilize and overseas banks pledged support
Two hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center's twin towers with massive loss of life on Tuesday. Both towers were completely erased from New York's skyline. A third hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth went down near Pittsburgh.
Many investment banks suspended daily client briefings Wednesday and some analysts, many of whom had lost colleagues and friends after the two aircraft hit the heart of New York's financial district, were reluctant to discuss market movements, Reuters reported.
One European equities salesman told the news agency: "A lot of analysts are wondering what the point is when people are dying and a lot of our clients don't want to talk to us."
The chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt, said he expects U.S. financial markets to reopen Thursday after two days of lost trading.
London's FTSE 100 closed 2.8 percent higher at 4,880.8 while the CAC 40 blue chip index in Paris rose 1.2 percent to 4,106.49. Frankfurt's Xetra Dax was up 1.7 percent at 4,345.72.
On Tuesday, Britain's FTSE 100 index suffered its worst one-day decline since the October 1987 global stock market crash. The FTSE dropped more than 5.8 percent and the Xetra Dax in Frankfurt plunged 8.5 percent.
In London trading, oil prices came off the previous session's peaks, when Brent Crude for October delivery rose as high as $31.05 amid concerns any U.S. military response against Middle East-based terrorist suspects would jeopardize oil supplies from the region.
Brent Crude for October deliver was down 78 cents Wednesday at $28.28 in late trade on London's International Petroleum Exchange.
OPEC promises continued oil supplies
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries earlier told CNN it would keep the markets adequately supplied with oil.
The dollar rose against the euro after the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan said they would keep financial markets supplied with sufficient funds to continue operating. The euro weakened to 90.60 U.S. cents after rising earlier in the day to a high of 91.59 cents.
Fixed-income bonds and gold, traditionally regarded as 'safe-haven' assets, lost ground Wednesday, giving up some of Tuesday's big gains. Gold eased to close at $280.00 an ounce, compared with $289.80 at the close Tuesday.
U.S. equity markets were closed Wednesday, and the country's stocks traded on European bourses were inactive.
The pan-European FTSE Eurotop 300, a broader index of the region's largest stocks, rose nearly 2 percent, with the oil and gas sectors in negative territory but insurance coming off its earlier lows.
Europe's biggest insurance company, Axa (PCS), closed 5.4 percent lower in Paris. But rival AGF (PAG), majority owned by Allianz of Germany, reversed earlier losses to end 4.5 percent higher. Allianz (FALV) fell nearly 4 percent in Frankfurt.
Munich Re (FMUV3), the world's largest reinsurer, also soared away from earlier losses to become the best performer on the Xetra Dax, up 7.2 percent.
Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurance group, also rallied to climb 4.4 percent. The company said it expects to have adequate reserves to cover any claims related to Tuesday's terrorist attacks. The stock had plunged 17 percent Tuesday.
British Airways (BAY), which fell more than 20 percent in the previous session to its lowest price in a decade, also fought back from losses Wednesday to end unchanged. The company said it is halting flights to Tel Aviv in Israel and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
Hotel and tour operators came under sustained selling pressure amid fears tourists would avoid the U.S. French hotel operator Accor (PAC) dropped 12.9 percent to top the loser board in Paris and German holiday company Preussag (FPRS) fell 3.5 percent.
In Amsterdam, the AEX index rose 0.7 percent and the SMI in Zurich was up 2.4 percent. Milan's MIB30 index climbed 0.9 percent.
Tokyo stocks tumbled to 17-year lows Wednesday, leaving the key Nikkei stock average at 9,610.10 at the close, down 6.6 percent. The index fell through 10,000 for the first time since August 1984.