Europe Stocks End Mixed

Asia shares end mixed; Canada stocks end higher

European stock markets finished mixed on Wednesday, but off earlier lows. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index moved higher by 10.7 points, or 0.24%, to 4,507.50. There was little reaction to a report that fourth quarter U.K. GDP grew at an unrevised 0.9%, according to S&P's MarketScope. GDP for year grew at a 2.3% rate, the largest in three years.

In Paris, the CAC 40 finished 19.19 points higher, or 0.52%, to 3,702.63. The French consumer price index rose 0.1% in January. Alstom and Euronext were higher, while Michelin was lower.

Germany's DAX index closed down 3.92 points, or 0.1%, to 3,995.34, as the GfK AG consumer confidence index came in little changed for March. According to MarketScope, the German market research company said the report suggested higher health care costs offset German chancellor Schroeder's tax cuts. Allianz was lower after Morgan Stanley cut its price estimate for the stock.

Asian markets finished mixed on Wednesday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index gained 14.6 points points, or 0.14%, to 10,658.73. Exporters fell after Tuesday's U.S. consumer confidence dip, but drug stocks rose, after Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical agreed to buy Fujisawa Pharmaceutical to form the nation's second largest drugmaker, reports MarketScope.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slipped 156.94 points lower, or 1.14%, to 13,599.47.

Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX rose 32.33 points, or 0.38%, to 8,637.32.

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