Europe Stocks Finish Higher

The Nikkei and Hang Seng lost ground

European stock markets finished higher Thursday despite the European Central Bank's decision not to lower interest rates. Positive comments from Ericsson (ERICY ) helped bolster the market.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index added 25 points, or 0.57%, to 4,410.7, mirroring positive trading on Wall Street on the back of solid economic data. On the corporate front, media and mining stocks were mostly in favor.

Germany's DAX index gained 68.15 points, or 1.77%, to 3,924.85. Bulls were encouraged a positive session on Wall Street, after a better than expected ISM manufacturing index.

In Paris, the CAC 40 increased 44.75 points, or 1.23%, to 3,669.98. Alcatel closed 4.83% higher after its peer Ericsson said first-quarter gross margins were exceeding its forecast, as demand is increasing in the sector. PPR (-1.59%) ended in the red after Gucci reported disappointing results, prompting Merrill Lynch to downgrade the French retailer to sell from hold.

In Asia, markets finished lower. The Nikkei 225 index shed 31.97 points, or 0.27%, to 11,683.42, amid worry over the yen's advance against the dollar despite a Bank of Japan's report showing rising corporate confidence.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index lost 5.42 points, or 0.04%, to 12,676.25. The top HSI loser was CNOOC, which sank on profit-taking despite news that OPEC said it would cut oil production as scheduled.

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