Europe and Asia End Higher

European stock markets gained in expectation of a rise in U.S. interest rates on Wednesday. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 gained 16.80 points, or 0.36%, to close at 4734.50. Shares closed higher ahead of the U.S. Fed meeting and positive reaction to Cable & Wireless' first-half results which pushed the share price up 6.39%. C&W reported an 8% rise in first-half profits to 199 million pounds from 185 million pounds this morning. Reaction is further boosted with its announcement of a 250 million pound share-buyback program and news that their chief operating officer Kevin Loosemore will leave the company at the end of March 2005. Among other companies reporting, Scottish Power took a hit after telling the market its Pacificorp division had a disappointing first-half, taking the gloss off a 12% rise in first-half profits to 442 million pounds, ahead of broker's forecasts. Publishing company Pearson reported third-quarter underlying sales were up 2% and says its flagship title, the Financial Times, will break even by the fourth-quarter.

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