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Europe Stocks End Lower

European bourses ended lower on Thursday in the wake of the European Central Bank's decision to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.0%.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index finished down 13.8 points, or 0.31%, to 4,378.20. Like its Brussels-based counterpart, the Bank of England left its key interest rate unchanged Thursday at 3.75%. Most observers see the BoE hiking rates early in 2004, reports S&P's Marketscope.

In Paris, the CAC 40 lost 5.38 points, or 0.15%, to 3,496.55. Germany's DAX index was down 0.88 point, or 0.02%, to 3,874.78. October German manufacturing orders beat expectations, up 2.0% month over month, following September's 1.9% gain.

Asian stock markets ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 103.6 points, or 1.00%, to 10,429.99. The Ministry of Finance's quarterly survey, which was released before the morning open, showed that confidence was regained in the October-December quarter among companies, amid robust exports and profits, reports MMS International. Tokyo Electron gained 1.2%, Advantest added 1.69%, Canon edged up 2.57%, and Toshiba Corp. increased 2.69%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index shed 18.53 points, or 0.15%, to finish at 12,342.65.

Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX rose 33.46 points, or 0.42%, to 7,993.34.

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