Europe Gains, Asia Mixed

European stock markets closed higher on Wednesday. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange gained 46.70 points, or 1.02%, to close at 4583.40, near session highs. Pharmas and oil shares provided the main lift. BP rebounded 0.85% on positive broker comments. Shell rose 2.85% and firmed ahead of Thursday's third-quarter report. GlaxoSmithKline was strongly up 2.31% despite analysts forecasting middling results tomorrow. Unilever ended higher after a choppy session. The group beat analysts estimates but warned of higher restructuring costs in the fourth quarter.

Germany's DAX gained 66.77 points, or 1.73%, to close at 3929.03, boosted by gains in financials, with Allianz and Munich Re up 2.5% and 1.8% respectively, on the back of a strong rally by U.S. insurance stocks. Elsewhere, SAP denied it was in talks with Microsoft regarding a potential takeover by the U.S. software giant.

France's CAC-40 gained 58.91 points, or 1.63%, to close at 3678.39, just short of its best intraday level. Buying was inspired by a fall in crude oil prices.

Asian markets ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei gained 19.49 points, or 0.18%, to close at 10,691.95, on the back of gains in exporters such as Toyota Motor. But the index's gain was capped as another strong earthquake hit northern Japan earlier today and the quake was felt in Tokyo. On the earnings front, Sharp Corp reported profit jumped 32% to a record in the first half of the year, while Honda Motor posted a 9.2% rise in quarterly operating profit, helped by better domestic sales.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 13.64 points, or 0.11%, to close at 12,838.71.

Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX fell 27.18 points, or 0.31%, to close at 8,791.00.

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