Europe Markets End Mixed

Asia markets finish sharply lower; Canada shares finish flat

European stock markets finished mixed. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was up 20.1 points, or 0.45%, to 4,505.5 following a British Chamber of Commerce report that manufacturing orders rose in the first quarter at the fastest pace in 4 years.

Germany's DAX index lost 8.16 points, or 0.2%, to 4,004.61. Some observers were disturbed by indications that Chancellor Schroeder won't push for needed economic reforms during the 13 local elections on tap for the next few months.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index fell 8.67 points, or 0.23%, to 3,722.76.

Asian markets finished sharply lower on Thursday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index plunged 297.78 points, or 2.46%, to close at 11,800.4 on foreign-led selling in banks and other recent gainers. Local media reports saying two more Japanese civilians had been kidnapped in Iraq, in addition to three taken hostage by armed militants last week, dampened sentiment. But Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi vowed not to give in to demand to bring Japan's troops home.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index lost 190.6 points, or 1.5%, to close at 12,479.26. Shares slid for the second straight day on worries over possible interest rates hikes both in the U.S. and China, hurting property and banking names.

Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX fell 2.95 points, or 0.03%, to 8637.17.