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Business Briefs

DAX falls to a seven-year low, international tourism fair opens amid war fears, euro reaches a high against the dollar and more.


German tourists are booking fewer trips abroad.

Germany's benchmark index

Frankfurt's DAX, the country's benchmark index sank to a seven-year low amid war fears on Friday. The index fell below 2,400 points for the first time since 1996. Analysts attibuted the drop to the growing belief that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is imminent. The Frankfurt stock exchange was able to stabilize and finished the day at 2,434 points.

Tourism fair opens in a bad mood

The world’s biggest tourism fair opened in Berlin on Thursday with the threat of war adding to the industry’s already depressed situation. Just as the $460 billion global industry was starting to emerge from its post-Sept. 11 attack doldrums, a possible war in Iraq delivered the tourism sector a second setback. The looming conflict has soured the mood at the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin, with World Tourism Organization head Francesco Frangialli saying the industry was facing the “gravest crisis in the history of world tourism. Germans, among the world’s best-travelled, are booking less trips than in 2002. Tourism giants like TUI and Thomas Cook are reporting bookings down by as much as 10 percent. “Should war break out, we can only hope that it’s short and as limited geographically as possible,” Frangialli said.

Euro reaches four-year high against the dollar

The Euro reached a four-year high against the dollar on Friday, following U.S. President George W. Bush’s speech on America’s readiness for war Thursday night. The currency, used by 12 European Union countries, crossed the 1.10 Euro mark for the first time in four years. In the past year, the dollar has lost 20.4 percent against the Euro. Analysts told wire services that Bush’s promise to go to war even without a United Nations mandate send currency traders running away from the dollar.

Cheap Airlines Flying High, Expanding

Two of Europe’s top low-fare airlines are beefing up their fleets and expanding routes, Ireland-based Ryanair and Germanwings, which has its headquarters in Cologne, said it would add three to four more airplanes to its current fleet of six. The subsidiary of Great Britain’s Eurowings also plans a second hub either in Germany or in another country, the company announced at Berlin’s International Tourism Exchange. Ryanair, the leader among Europe’s low-fair airlines, added an airport near Leipzig, Germany to its flight plan. The Altenburg-Nobitz airport is Ryanair’s third airport in Germany.