Europe Mixed, Asia Higher

European stock markets were mixed on U.S. economic data. Asian markets were higher on strong Japanese data

European stock markets was mostly lower on Monday. In London, the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 lost 38.30 points, or 0.76%, to close at 4968.50. The FTSE closed below the 5000 mark as HSBC's results weighed and Wall Street provided little inspiration. HSBC fell after posting a 37% rise in profits to $17.608 billion, lower than analysts were expecting. Irish pharmaceutical firm Elan plummeted after it suspended its multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, made in conjunction with its U.S. partner Biogen, following the death of a patient who was treated with the drug. Publisher Pearson also dropped after reporting fiscal year pretax profits of 386 million pounds, vs. 410 million pounds, slightly below forecasts. The company said weakness at its Penguin division and the weak dollar hit profits.

In Germany, the Dax gained 1.85 points, or 0.04%, to close at 4350.49 as Wall Street was trading lower after the U.S. core PCE index for January showed a higher than expected rise of 0.3%, with broader consumer prices up 0.2% while consumer spending came in flat and personal incomes fell 2.3%. Meanwhile, WTI trades at $51.95 per barrel. Among stocks that moved today, Schering rallied on news peer Biogen and Elan voluntarily suspended their drug Tysabri after a patient died. Infineon slipped on a DrKW downgrade reflecting their pessimistic DRAM price outlook. Porsche rose after reporting first-half profit rose 6.3% while sales rise 3.9%, both numbers seen slightly better than expected.

France's CAC-40 lost 7.41 points, or 0.18%, to close at 4027.16, barely changed, as losses in France Telecom, Vivendi Universal and Air Liquide offset advances in Sanofi, Suez and Carrefour. In France, toppy oil prices continued to weigh on sentiment. The oil major also advanced on news it will take a stake in a j/v with Qatar Gas 2. France Telecom was the main drag on the CAC40 as an air of uncertainty hung over the stock after Didier Lombard was appointed CEO, replacing Thierry Breton, who has been given the role of French finance minister. Breton sold 11,000 shares in the telecom giant. French consumer confidence unexpectedly increased to -23 in February vs -25 in January, giving a nice uplift to Carrefour. Defense and aerospace stocks were lower. EADS dipped as it waited on news from the British military, which is expected to award it refuelling contract worth as much as 20 billion euro today.

Asian markets were higher on Monday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 82.35 points, or 0.71%, to close at 11,740.60, lifted by gains on Wall Street and on strong output data released just before the start of trade. Trade ministry data showed industrial production rose 2.1% month over month in January, higher than market expectations. Steel makers gained with Tokyo Steel, Nippon Steel and JFE Holdings up 3.8%, 3.6% and 4.2%, respectively. Daiichi Pharmaceutical surged 8.45% after Sankyo Co said on Friday it will buy Daiichi in October in a deal worth US$7.7 bln to create the country's No. 2 drug maker.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index is up 38.26 points, or 0.25%, to 14,193 about 30-minutes before closing. Oil players such as Sinopec and Petrochina gained strength due to higher world crude prices, which held above $51/barrel. COSCO Pacific Holdings has mandated five banks to raise a syndicated loan of $350 billion for the acquisition of the 52.4% stake in COSCO Pacific Limited held by COSCO (Hong Kong) Group.

Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P lost 73.05 points, or 0.75%, to close at 9,668.32.

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