LONDON -- Fears of further falls in Chinese demand drove mining stocks lower in London, prompting the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE) to fall about 1.5% over the week to 5,576, receding further from that 6,000 level so loved by pundits, but which doesn't actually mean anything.
And elections in Europe shook the markets a little this week, amid fears that French President-Elect Francois Hollande will take his country in a dangerously socialist direction, and that the new Greek government will abandon the austerity measures it needs to get its bailouts.
But in Paris, the CAC 40 (INDEX: ^FCHI) remained remarkably sanguine, dropping just 1% to 3,130. In Greece, however, the Athens General Index (INDEX: ^GD.AT) lost nearly 11% to end the week at 612. Germany's DAX (INDEX: ^GDAXI) dipped on Tuesday but rallied to end the week up 1% at 6,580.
A tough week for UK miners and bankers
Leading London mining shares that took a hit included BHP Billiton, which lost 3% during the week to end on 1,864 pence; Anglo American, which fell by more than 3% to 2,187 pence; and Xstrata, dropping 7% to 1,052 pence.
Is there no end to the banking crisis? Fallout from JPMorgan Chase's shocking $2 billion loss hit UK banks this week, with the bailed-out two taking the brunt of it. Royal Bank of Scotland dived 6% to 23 pence, with Lloyds Banking Group showing a 5% fall to 31 pence.
But J Sainsbury brought a bit of cheer to the FTSE, as shares in the UK's third largest supermarket gained more than 3% to 315 pence, after it announced healthy results.
Eurozone banks, too
Among other European shares, Banco Santander lost more than 5% of its value on Wednesday, hitting a low of 4.58 euros, after the Spanish government effectively nationalized struggling competitor Bankia, before promptly regaining its loss the following day. Despite fears of a possible Spanish banking crisis, Santander ended the week at 4.87 euros.
Telecoms did well
A few green islands stood out among a sea of red on France's CAC 40, with Alcatel-Lucent putting on a very nice 9% to end at 1.22 euros, after the launch of the $650 million West African Cable System, linking Africa to Europe.
The only serious riser on Germany's DAX was Deutsche Telekom, which reported forecast-busting earnings, thanks in part to a big boost from T-Mobile USA. The result was an almost 5% rise, to 8.90 euros.
Things otherwise looked glum there, with insurer Allianz losing 4.5% to 80.17 euros, even though it reported a positive first quarter and looks to be on track to hit its full-year forecasts. And Deutsche Lufthansa fell 3% to 9.26 euros in the week that it appointed Simone Menne, formerly of BMI, as its new CFO.
Finally, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has spent more than $1 billion buying the shares of one of the UK's most successful large caps.
Clearly he thinks there are bargains to be had within Britain's FTSE 100, and you can discover the details of his investment -- including the price he paid -- by reading this free report.
The Motley Fool is helping Britain invest. Better. And with the economy so uncertain, we're urging everyone to read "10 Steps to Making a Million in the Market" -- it may transform your wealth. Click here now to request your free, no-obligation copy.
Further investing opportunities:
At the time thisarticle was published Fool UK's Alan Oscroft owns no shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.