Europe Closes Higher

European stock markets closed higher Wednesday as oil futures fell

European stock markets closed higher on Wednesday. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index rose 18.70 points to 5109.10 as net consumer credit rose more than expected and net mortgage lending increased but CBI June retail sales fell to the lowest level since 1983. 69 FTSE stocks rose, 30 fell on turnover of 1,722,000,000 shares. Bonds rallied; yields on 10-year gilts fell to 4.21% from 4.22% yesterday. Sterling fell to $1.8053. August Brent crude oil futures fell on inventory reports. ITV rose after UK regulators ruled ITV and TV network Five will have their analog license fees cut by half this year as viewers switch to digital reception. Kingfisher rose on Financial Times story that said company may be bought by Wolseley. Thor Mining rose in its initial public offering.

In Germany, the DAX index gained 26.17 points to 4583.63 as oil futures fell. 21 DAX stocks rose, 8 fell on turnover of 103,102,000 shares. Yields on 10-year Bunds fell to 3.17% from 3.15% yesterday. The euro was up at $1.2973. Infineon Technology rose after CSFB raised their recommendation on stock to "neutral" from "underperform". Kontron rose after company said it expects annual earnings and sales to rise by a two-digit percentage in the years ahead. Deutsche Lufthansa rose as oil prices decline. Deutsche Telekom rose in sympathy with news France Telecom plans to raise its dividend payout.

France's CAC 40 rose 37.55 points to 4231.88 as French May producer prices fell 0.3%, crude oil prices fell. 35 CAC stocks rose, 4 fell on turnover of 134,670,000 shares. Yields of 10-year bonds rose to 3.18% from 3.16% yesterday. Several stocks rose on news Prime Minister de Villepin plans to sell stakes in three government highway companies in an effort to reduce France's debt. Autoroutes du Sud, Societe des Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhone and Societe des Autoroutes du Nord et de l"est de la France all rose on news. Vinci, which interested in Autoroutes du Sud, also rose. STMicroelectronics was higher on a CSFB upgrade.

Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 63.61 points, or 0.55%, to 11,577.44. Exporters led stocks higher in Tokyo after a U.S. June consumer confidence rose to a three-year high and the dollar strengthened against the yen. A drop in crude oil prices also boosted sentiment. The broader TOPIX index rose 6.38 points, or 0.6%, to 1176.48, accompanied by much higher volume. Advancing issues outpaced declining issues by 919 to 565.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng eased 10.16 points, or 0.07%, to 14,277.28. The index edged down in late trade after trading higher most of the day. But the broader market showed strength, with breadth 16-9 positive. Volume was far above the recent average. Losses in large-cap plays HSBC Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa weighed on the index.

Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P loses 11.80 points, or 0.12%, to close at 10,029.23.

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