Europe Stocks End Higher

Asian markets finish lower

European stock markets closed higher on Thursday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was up 62.50 points, or 1.43%, to 4,148.70 on reports U.K. June consumer credit rose a more-than-expected 2.1 billion pounds, July consumer sentiment rose, and a nationwide survey showed U.K. house prices surged 2.1% in July. ICI was higher after reporting higher second quarter earnings and said product demand is good. Rio Tinto Group was higher after saying first-half net income rose to $1.44 billion from $641 million.

Germany's DAX index added 82.47 points, or 2.17%, to 3,889.68 as oil futures prices declined after yesterday's surge on fears Russian supplies would be disrupted. Adva AG Optical Networking was higher after second quarter sales surged. DaimlerChrysler was up after naming Eckhard Cordes to succeed Juergen Hubbert as chief of the Mercedes Car Group. Hugo Boss was up on strong second-quarter sales.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index advanced 67.87 points, or 1.90%, to 3,643.79 as July service industry confidence rose to a 3-1/2 year high. Renault was higher after raising its full year forecast and saying first half profit rose more than expected. Bigben Interactive rose after saying second quarter sales in line with expectations.

Asian markets finished lower on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 87.53 points, or 0.78%, to close at 11,116.84. Sentiment was dampened by weaker-than-expected Japanese industrial production data for June. Tech stocks trended lower on the gloomy sector outlook, with Sony down 2.3% while Advantest dropped 0.94%. Plasma TV maker Pioneer fell over 9% after it posted a 49.1% drop in group net profit for the April-June quarter. But Honda Motor rose 3.3% after it announced positive earnings on Wednesday. S&P Asian Equity Research believes there is little to get excited over Honda's first quarter fiscal year 2005 (Mar.) results, even with a 12% increase in net profit, as most of the improvement came from non-operating items (derivative gains).

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gave up 137.17 points, or 1.11%, to close at 12,183.10, falling on concerns over rise in oil prices and a possible interest rate hike.

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