Europe Closes Higher

European markets closed higher with the European Central Bank and Bank of England leaving rates unchanged

European stock markets gained on Thursday. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 gained 16.70 points, or 0.35%, to close at 4800.30. The FTSE rose on a positive reaction to trading updates from Reuters, Gus and Sainsbury. U.S. blue chips opened lower despite positive earnings from Apple Computer. Shares of Reuters rose 2.69% after the information provider said underlying recurring revenues for the quarter are likely to drop by around 1.5%, better than analysts forecast, vs. a decline of 8.4% year-over-year. ITV lead the index higher on speculation that U.S. venture capital group KKR may be interested in a bid and reports that advertising revenues may be set to strengthen. Among retail stocks, Gus said Argos like-for-like Christmas sales moved up 1% for the 15 weeks to Jan. 8, with Homebase up 4%. Sainsbury said like-for-like sales for the four weeks to Jan. 1 were down 0.4%, with same store third-quarter sales falling 1.2%. The company said fourth-quarter trading will remain challenging. Carphone Warehouse soared 7.12% after announcing retail revenues rose 11.2% for the 13 weeks to Dec. 25 2004 with like-for-like gross profit up 4.3%, and said it expects fiscal results to beat consensus. As expected, the Bank of England left UK interest rates unchanged at 4.75%.

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