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Markets & Finance

Europe Stocks End Higher

European stock markets ended higher on Wednesday.

London's FTSE 100 index was up 28.7 points, or 0.55%, to 5,245.9 with help from some positive earnings reports.

Among stocks on the move, Burberry Group was sharply higher after the company, which is 66% owned by GUS, reported higher first-quarter sales. Marks & Spencer Group was higher after the company said its plans to boost profitability and cut costs remain intact even as a slowdown in consumer spending caused sales to drop for a seventh straight quarter. BP rose after the company said its Thunder Horse oil and natural- gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico has stabilized after sustaining damage from Hurricane Dennis.

Germany's DAX index rose 26.86 points, or 0.58%, to 4,679.89 on bargain hunting. Commerzbank was higher on plans to cut as many as 600 jobs at the Mittelstand unit, its least profitable business. E.ON was lower on a report all prices that electricity and natural-gas grid owners charge competitors to use their networks will have to be approved by the regulator beginning in May 2006.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 29.84 points, or 0.69%, to 4,343.62. Alcatel rose after reporting its second-quarter earnings were higher than expected. Carrefour fell after the company reported a less than expected 4.1% rise in second-quarter sales. Avanquest was higher after buying Germany's Magnaways online business.

Asian markets finished mixed on Wednesday.

In Japan, the Nikkei index lost 32.3 points, or 0.28%, to 11,659.84 as the market consolidated recent gains.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index climbed 160.35 points, or 1.13%, to 14,307.3 as an afternoon rally was led by property plays on the back of speculation the uptrend in housing prices will continue. A 2.6% jump in index heavyweight China Mobile also boosted the market. Stocks of companies with business in mainland China benefited from renewed speculation the country will revalue its currency, reports Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

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