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Europe Stocks Finish Higher

European stock markets finished higher on Wednesday.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was up 13.8 points, or 0.26%, to 5,377.5 as the Bank of England said U.K. economic growth will accelerate by 2007, making it less likely that the bank will cut interest rates for a second time this year.

Among stocks on the move, Shell was up after resuming share buyback program and predicting higher earnings. Kingfisher rose on a report Warren Buffett's Geico unit bought shares in the company.

Germany's DAX index jumped 81.09 points, or 1.65%, to 4,990.57 on takeover rumors and carryover from the U.S. market rally.

Commerzbank was sharply higher and BNP Paribas was off a bit amid unconfirmed rumors BNP may make a takeover bid for Commerzbank; neither bank had comment. Lufthansa was up on stronger than expected earnings. Allianz gained after reporting higher second-quarter earnings. Bayer was down as second-quarter results missed expectations.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 35.42 points, or 0.79%, to 4,527.11.

Infogrames Entertainment was lower after reporting a first-quarter loss. Ales was higher after the company reported second quarter sales rose 9.4%. Sodifrance dropped as second-quarter sales fell.

Asian markets finished with strong gains on Wednesday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 197.76 points, or 1.66%, to 12,098.08 as the government said the economy has emerged from a standstill. Late yesterday, the Bank of Japan revised upward its assessment of the economy for the second consecutive month, citing increases in exports and wages. Gains in the U.S. after yesterday's FOMC meeting also provided a positive backdrop, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index surged 298.57 points, or 1.98%, to 15,346.41. The index rallied to a four-year high as telco bellwether China Mobile posted better-than-expected first half results, joining others that have announced strong earnings in recent days. Buyers came into the market with force in the afternoon, pushing the Hang up steadily to close at its high for the day, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

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