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Europe Stocks Rise

European stock markets finished higher. The euro was down against the dollar at $1.2499, as European Central bankers said the higher single currency is not desirable at this time.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index gained 31.8 points, or 0.71%, to 4,487.9, supported by strong tech results and upbeat consumer sentiment data in the U.S. Profit taking may have hurt the market in late trading as investors close positions ahead of the weekend as U.S. markets will be closed on Monday.

In Paris, the CAC 40 added 44.83 points, or 1.24%, to 3,671.8, with a strong rally in techs following upbeat earnings news in the sector.

Germany's DAX index rose 42.89 points, or 1.05%, to 4,111.64, driven among other things by a surge in pharmaceuticals stocks on takeover speculation amid renewed talk of French merger activity.

Asian markets finished mixed Friday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index broke a three-day slide, gaining 192.05 points, or 1.8%, to close at 10,857.2. Japanese wholesale prices fell 0.7% in 2003, marking the third consecutive annual decline, but the downturn that has hurt corporate profits is easing, says the Bank of Japan.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index lost 82.05 points, or 0.62%, to close at 13,167.76.

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