Europe Stocks Close Mixed

Asia markets finish higher

European stock markets closed mixed on Friday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was down 5.6 points, or 0.13%, to 4,413.1. BP was higher. Rio Tinto was also higher after its chairman said China's demand for metals and minerals will continue to support markets in the long term. Lloyds TSB was lower after the company said its net income fell.

Germany's DAX index added 5.93 points, or 0.15%, to 3,895.61 as oil prices rose to 21-year highs on fears of shortages. There was little reaction to reports that the European Monetary Union economic sentiment index rose to 100.1 in July from 99.7 in June, and the business climate index rose to 0.58 from 0.44 in June. Deutsche Bank fell after saying second-quarter earnings rose 15% but were lower than analysts expected. Deutsche Post was up after the company increased its earnings forecast for the year. Metro Group was lower despite reporting higher second-quarter earnings. Suedzucker was lower after traders were disappointed that the company left its dividend unchanged.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 3.31 points, or 0.09%, to 3,647.1 despite the fact the French unemployment rate rose to 9.0% in June and consumer sentiment was unchanged in July. Alcatel was lower after Lehman and CSFB cut their share estimates. Infogrames Entertainment was lower after saying first-quarter earnings slumped 93%.

Asian markets finished higher on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rallied 208.94 points, or 1.88%, to close at 11,325.78 led by techs and financials. Advantest climbed 3.33% while Sony added 2.36%. Strong April-June quarter results boosted Matsushita Electric and Hitachi shares. Matsushita Electric said on Thursday its quarterly profit more than doubled on strong sales of plasma TVs and home appliances, while Hitachi turned profitable in the latest quarter on the back of brisk demand for hard disk drives and PDP TVs. UFJ Holdings soared over 10% following news that Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) was considering a takeover of UFJ. Following SMFG's comment, Mitsubishi Toyko Financial Group said it would seek an early agreement to merge with UFJ.

On the economic front, Japan's June nationwide CPI dropped 0.1% year-over-year, while the jobless rate remained unchanged during the month at 4.6%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gained 54.93 points, or 0.45%, to close at 12,238.03 with property and utility names leading gains.

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