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Europe Stocks Fall


European stock markets finished lower on Tuesday.

London's FTSE 100 index fell 25.2 points, or 0.48%, to 5,217.2. A report that Britain's inflation reached a 7-year high of 2% in June reduces the Bank of England's scope to cut rates even though economy slowing, says S&P MarketScope.

Among stocks on the move, Vodafone rose as Lehman Brothers recommended clients "switch to Vodafone" because its shares look cheap relative to those of BT Group. Hedge fund giant Man Group fell after the company said net new client inflows in the three months ended June 30 totaled $400 million, less than some analysts expected.

In Germany, the DAX index lost 10.35 points, or 0.22%, to 4,653.03. European finance ministers said eurozone region economic growth will fall short of official forecasts in 2005 as oil hovers near a record, consumer confidence stagnates, and Italy struggles with recession. At the same time, however, HWWI economic institute said German economic growth will almost double next year, helped by a pickup in consumer spending after an early election planned for September.

Allianz and Munich Re fell after Munich sold a stake in Allianz. Volkswagen rose on speculation the company will close its Brussels plant. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen fell after Morgan Stanley initiated coverage with an "underweight" rating.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index was down 7.78 points, or 0.18%, to 4,313.78. Alcatel was higher as preliminary figures show second quarter revenues rose 8%. L'Oreal rose after reporting a 4.1% hike in first-half sales. Alstom was lower despite reporting higher first-quarter sales.

Asian markets closed mixed on Tuesday. In Japan, the Nikkei index gained 17.35 points, or 0.15%, to 11,692.14. The market opened on a firm note but then pared gains. Buying interest recently has come in part from the perception that Japanese stocks, particularly in the information-technology sector, are undervalued relative to foreign peers, says S&P MarketScope. Some of today's weakness reflects profit taking after recent gains. A decline in Japan's June consumer confidence index also weighed on sentiment.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 10.29 points, or 0.07%, to 14,146.95. A late recovery from session lows pushed the Hang Seng back into positive territory after a day of choppy trading, says S&P MarketScope. Large-cap telecom names China Mobile and China Unicom led decliners by index points amid profit taking.


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