Asia Lower

Tokyo shares fell Tuesday on profit-taking and a higher-than-expected unemployment rate in Japan for February

European stock markets were mixed on Tuesday. In London, the Financial Times Stock Exchange-100 lost 3.50 points, or 0.07%, to close at 4919.00. The FTSE narrowed losses to close well above the 4900 mark as pressure on the oil sector eased while the banks sector also lent support. Wall Street was trading flat at the time of the London close after the Conference Board consumer confidence index for March showed a drop to 102.4, vs. expectations of 102.8 and previous reading of 104.4. At home, the overall tone was negative. In the pharma sector, Shire Pharma and AstraZeneca were hit by profit-taking after a strong start to the year. Scottish & Newcastle rose after Baltika, its Russian subsidiary jointly-owned with Carlsberg, reports a 30.9% rise in fiscal 2004 pretax profits. Tate & Lyle said overall trading performance has continued in line with its expectations. The group added that demand for Sucralose remains very strong with current production capacity fully utilised.

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