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Markets & Finance

Europe Stocks End Mixed

European markets closed mixed on Tuesday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange gained 1.1 points, or 0.02%, to close at 4717.7. Marks & Spencer lost 0.78%, after it said FD Alison Reed and M&S Money chief executive Laurel Powers-Freeling are to step down. It also confirmed the sale of M&S Money to HSBC for 762 million pounds. Marconi reported a second-quarter operating loss of 29 million pounds from 62 million pound loss in the same period last year and expects low single digit sales growth for fiscal 2005. BHP Billiton rose 1.52% after the company said it sees no major impact from the recent interest rate rise in China.

In Germany, the DAX index lost 3.64 points, or 0.09%, to close at 4065.33. The index turned slightly negative in a quiet trade ahead of tomorrow's Fed rate meeting which will probably witness a 25 basis-point hike in lending rates. A deluge of corporate earnings ensured the session saw some activity, with Commerzbank the last to release. The figures were bad, but most of the loss was blamed on the cost of restructuring its investment banking operation. Infineon and RWE were among the session's biggest losers after releasing disappointing data. Deutsche Boerse impressed last night with better-than-expected earnings and gained 2.28%. The stock also benefited from an upgrade from Deutsche Bank. MAN jumped ahead of earnings data due Thursday which suggests third-quarter net profit may have doubled to 65 million euro from 32 million euro. Lufthansa was weaker as ABN downgraded the stock.

The ZEW reported sentiment fell to 13.9 from October's 31.3, its lowest point in almost two years. Concerns that crude oil and the weak dollar will hurt economic growth and corporate profits are behind the slump in confidence.

France's CAC-40 lost 7.05 points, or 0.19%, to close at 3769.94. Losses in Sanofi-Aventis and France Telecom offset advances in Total and today's star performer Cap Gemini. The benchmark index continued to trade in a narrow 19 point trading range. Cap Gemini surged 10.44% after delivering consensus-beating third-quarter sales and a well-received conference call. Total rose ahead of third-quarter results tomorrow, while WTI crude dropped below $48 as the market looks for a sharp build in U.S. inventories data tomorrow. Thales was upbeat mood ahead of its quarterly revenues release after the close, while Bouygues was subdued.

Asian markets closed lower as Japan's Nikkei average was hurt by losses in banks, exporters, and insurance names. The Nikkei lost 18.96 points, or 0.17%, to close at 10,964.87. Exporters fell on concerns over the dollar's recent weakness, with Sony slipping 0.8% while Canon declined 1.12%. Worries about the domestic economic outlook hit banking and insurance stocks, with Mizuho Financial skidding almost 1% while UFJ Holdings edged down 0.39%.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index was rangebound on Tuesday due to lack of catalysts. It lost 44.82 points, or 0.33%, to close at 13,516.67. On the IPO front, China Netcom New York and Hong Kong IPO, worth up to $1.2 billion, has attracted more than enough demand, but it has not generated the massive levels of subscription seen in several China listings this year, Reuters reports.

Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P gained 19.43 points, or 0.22%, to close at 8,845.16.

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