Europe Stocks End Mixed

Asian markets end with strong gains; Canada shares climb at close

European stock markets finished mixed Friday.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index fell 23.7 points, or 0.52%, to 4,492.2 with help from some positive earnings reports, and an HSBC survey showing British consumers were willing to borrow more in February. BAE Systems was higher after the company posted the first profit in four years. Aviva was higher after posting strong second half earnings. The sterling was down at $1.8488 following reports that the Blair government is not overly concerned about the recent currency rise.

In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 10.95 points, or 0.29%, to 3,725.44 following news that French jobless rate fell to 9.6%, and January producer prices rose 0.3%.

Germany's DAX index was up 10.35 points, or 0.26%, to 4,018.16 on hopes that the European Central Bank will cut rates, even though a bank member played down the chances of that happening. The euro was down at $1.2386 as Schroeder meets with Bush in Washington to discuss the impact of recent dollar weakness.

Asian markets finished with strong gains Friday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index jumped 226.63 points, or 2.1%, to 11,041.92. Buying was inspired by news that Japan's manufacturers increased production at the fastest rate in four months. Additionally, January household spending rose for the first time in five months.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 232.39 points, or 1.7%, to 13,907.03.

Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX rose 50.65 points, or 0.58%, to 8,788.49.

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