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Europe Stock Markets Slip

European stock markets finished with small losses Monday. London's FTSE 100 index was down 3.6 points, or 0.08%, to 4,502.2. A lack of major economic or earnings news provided little impetus to move prices. Lloyds TSB was weaker after this morning's trading update provided no catalysts for analysts to upgrade earnings forecasts. The bank noted a decline in net interest margin from the second half of 2003. Royal & Sun (+4%) bucked the trend among financials on news it is in talks to sell the UK Life operations. Traders noted profit-taking in the telco sector.

Germany's DAX index lost 10.48 points, or 0.26%, to 3,989.31. Traders said concerns about an escalation of the situation in the Middle East, following reports that Iran has detained three British vessels and arrested more than five crew members, weighed on the market.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index fell 0.62 point, or 0.02%, to 3,740.28. The index was held back by energy, telecom, and financial stocks: Total (-0.06%); France Telecom (+0.39%); and BNP-P (-0.29%).

Asian markets finished mixed on Monday. In Japan, the Nikkei index rose 218.08 points, or 1.92%, to 11,600.16 on broad-based buying, boosted by a rebound on Wall Street on Friday. Techs, insurers, retail names, and contractors rose.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index lost 9.96 points, or 0.08%, to 11,845.59, with properties leading losses on news that there will be more new flats available in the market in the next few years than previously expected.

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