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Europe Stocks Fall

European stock markets finished lower on Wednesday.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index fell 29.60 points, or 0.56%, to 5,292.70, following a report that the British July unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.8%.

Among stocks on the move, Balfour Beatty fell despite reporting higher first half earnings. Cyprotex rose after the company said its first-half net loss narrowed. East Surrey Holdings fell after Terra Firma Capital Partners said it planned to withdraw its 453 million pound takeover bid. Gulfsands Petroleum rose after the company said it found a natural gas at its Barb Mag field in Texas. Ottakar's rose on a published report in might be taken private.

Germany's DAX index fell 12.35 points, or 0.25%, to 4,871.46.

Sartorius, a maker of laboratory equipment and technology, was among the decliners following a published report that the company is considering more acquisitions. As for gainers, Augusta Technologies rose after the company cut its stake in Pandatel to below 50%. Balda rose on a published report investor Bernd Fennel sold his 49.9% stake in the company. Leoni rose after the company signed letter of intent to buy all of Kerpen GmbH for an undisclosed price.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index dropped 4.94 points, or 0.11%, to 4,439.63 after a report that the French trade deficit for June was slightly higher than in May.

Air Liquide fell after UBS cut its rating on the stock to neutral from buy. Essilor rose after CAI Cheuvreux raised its rating on stock to outperform from underperform. L'Oreal rose as U.S. dollar firmed. Ipsos fell despite reporting better than expected earnings.

Asian markets ended mixed Wednesday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 42.55 points, or 0.35%, to 12,273.12. Despite broader market weakness, banking groups and other domestic-related shares extended recent gains on bullish sentiment toward the economy, reports Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed up 5.96 points, or 0.04% to 15,449.58. Leading percentage gainers were Henderson Land (+2.4%), China Unicom (+2.2%), and Hutchison Whampoa (+2%), whereas the top laggard was CNOOC (-3.4%). Henderson Investment said it will spend HK$321 million to buy out unit Henderson Cyber (+59.6%).

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