Europe Stocks Fall

The Nikkei gains, while the Hang Seng drops

European stock markets finished lower, amid earnings disappointments from drug maker Bayer and insurer Allianz, and news that oil giant Shell cut reserves and will delay posting its annual report.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index fell 58.9 points, or 1.32%, to end at 4,397.9, following weak U.S. markets and a security scare on the Eurostar route. Positive employment data failed to lift spirits. Adverse anti-trust developments at Microsoft hit the technology giant and dampened sentiment.

Germany's DAX index shed 69.36 points in a broad-based decline, or 1.78%, to 3,827.43. "The increasing cost of oil and rising U.S. producer goods prices brought sellers," says MarketScope, while key corporate reports disappointed traders.

In Paris, the CAC 40 declined 66.06 points, or 1.81%, to 3,589.98. The index suffered from New York's poor open, as well as a local terrorism scare -- later proved unwarranted -- around a suspicious package on the French Eurostar. The declining dollar and high oil prices also triggered some selling.

In Asia, markets finished mixed. The Nikkei 225 index gained 47.42 points, or 0.41%, to 11,484.28. Several high-tech stocks including Sony rose as investors took heart from a second-day of gains on Wall Street, although there were lingering concerns about global security in the wake of the Madrid bombings, analysts said.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index slid 159.53 points, or 1.23%, to 12,816.19, on poor earnings news and a lackluster trading debut for a chipmaker. Shanghai Industrial was hurt by its 12%-owned mainland chipmaker SMIC's poor trading debut today.

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