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Europe Stocks Close Lower

European stock markets closed lower on Wednesday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index eased 38.70 points, or 0.89%, to 4,312.20. S&P MarketScope Europe reports the index was hit by heavyweight blue chip stocks trading ex-dividend, including BP (-1.4%), Shell (-2.0%), HBOS (-2.3%), and Lloyds TSB (-2.4%). UK bank stocks were weaker overall following recent strength on back of consolidation hopes.

In Germany, the DAX index was lower by 41.73 points, or 1.12%, to 3,678.91. S&P MarketScope Europe reports shares remain under pressure as oil price rises further, and that Cisco's announcement that inventories and sales fell short of expectations also weighed on the market. The news from Cisco hit tech stocks in particular: Infineon (-3.84%), SAP (-2.69%), and Siemens (-1.86%).

In Paris, the CAC 40 index lost 30.11 points, or 0.85%, to 3,502.95. S&P MarketScope Europe reports that Cisco's cautious comments weighed on the French market. Tech shares lead the downturn with Alcatel (-4.31%) slumping. Cap Gemini (-3.87%) also came under pressure as it reported second quarter sales at the bottom end of forecasts.

Asian stock markets closed mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 95.91 points, or 0.88%, to 11,049.46. Comments from the U.S Federal Reserve spurred Asian stocks higher, as investors shrugged off a widely expected U.S. interest rate rise. Shares of many exporters bouncing back on renewed optimism about an export-led recovery in the Japanese economy. Toyota climbed 3.15% and Nissan roes 2.02%. Banking, property and construction shares also rose on the improved sentiment. Shares in top banks were boosted by a court ruling that allowed UFJ Holdings to include its trust business in its merger discussions with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. UFJ Holdings leaped 5.18%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 64.91 points, or 0.52%, to 12,343.13 on concerns over soaring oil prices and companies' first half results, despite Wall Street gains.

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