Europe Stocks Close Higher

Asia markets finish higher

European stock markets closed higher. The Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index in London was up 1.80 points, or 0.04%, to 4,565.60 as UK manufacturing output unexpectedly fell 0.2% in July. GlaxoSmithKline was lower after Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein cut its recommendation on the stock to hold from add. AstraZeneca and Shire Pharmaceuticals were also lower. Hays was higher as fiscal 2004 results swung to a profit in the absence of reorganizing costs.

Germany's DAX index added 1.46 points, or 0.04%, to 3,889.04 as German July industrial production rose more than expected 1.6%. E.ON was lower after WestLB Equity Markets cut its recommendation on the stock to outperform from buy. T-Online International was higher as major shareholder Deutsche Telecom said it is examining ways to "reintegrate" the Internet unit.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index was up up 9.11 points, or 0.25%, to 3,682.14. Alcatel was lower as Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the stock to underperform from in line. Ciments Francais was higher after posting higher first quarter results. Lafarge was higher after saying its first half net rose 74% from year ago.

Asian markets finished higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 54.7 points, or 0.49%, to close at 11,298.94 on optimism over the domestic economy, with investors anticipating an upward revision in GDP growth for the quarter on Friday. Asahi Breweries rose after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to overweight while Mizuho Financial gained almost 1% after the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Norinchukin Bank will take an over 15% stake in its unit, Mizuho Securities.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index advanced 31.70 points, or 0.24%, to close at 13,136.04, led by gains in property names.

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