European Markets Close Lower

Dampening sentiment was the European Central Bank's refusal to cut rates

European markets closed lower. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was off 81 points, or 1.57% at 5,086.60 as U.S. stocks skid on weak economic data that diminish perception America would rebound quickly. The European Central Bank also refused to cut rates at Thursday's meeting as it is still worried about inflation. In France, the CAC 40 index was down 107.90 points, or 2.41%, to 4,715.60. In Germany, the DAX index was off 96.22 points, or 2.00% to 4,715.60, also on the Central Bank leaving rates unchanged. Germany's Finance Minister said the slumping German economy did not need any fiscal stimulus even though the government lowered its forecast for economic growth this year to 0.75% from 2%.

Japan's Nikkei 225 average gained 77.95 points, or 0.72%, to 10,880.10 as banks rose for a second day on improved sentiment following signs of progress in expanding the Resolution and Collection Corp.'s role in cleaning up Japan's bad debt problem. Markets in Hong Kong were closed in observance of the Chung Yeung Festival.

Canada's benchmark TSE 300 index closed up 46.8 points to 6943.7. This bullish reversal and close at the session high points to continued gains. There is a potential for a reversal to the last two weeks' highs (and highest levels since the September 11 tragedy). Eleven of the subindices closed up, led by the financials and industrials. The Small Real Estate subindex lead the other 3 subindices lower.

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