Asia Higher, Europe Mixed

The Japanese Nikkei index was higher on Thursday helped by merger and acquisition speculation

European stock markets were mixed on Thursday. In London, the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 gained 9.6 points, or 0.19%, to close at 5000.00,after hitting a record 5014.8 in mid-afternoon. The market reacted positively to the Bank of England's decision to keep interest rates unchanged at 4.75% while chemicals group ICI surged on good results. Wall Street was mixed after better than expected economic data, but Ericsson's results dragged the Nasdaq lower. At home, ICI helped to shake early FTSE gloom, reporting strong customer demand as its fiscal profits rose 11% to 479 million pounds. Shire Pharma was the biggest faller after Health Canada requested the suspension of sales of its ADHD treatment, Adderall, in Canada. Banking giant Barclays also dropped on concerns about its rising bad debt provisions. Unilever said its dual chairman/CEO structure will be abandoned with Patrick Cescau becoming group CEO. Elsewhere, BT saw a 3% rise in third-quarter group turnover to 4.854 billion pounds, while earnings rose 9% to 4.8 pence. Rolls Royce bettered expectations with profits of 345 million pounds but dropped after a broker downgrade, while Hilton rose after an upgrade.

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