Europe Stocks End Lower

The Nikkei and Hang Seng indexes rose

European stock markets finished lower on Thursday.

London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was off 18.9 points, or 0.35%, to 5,358.6 on profit taking and higher crude oil prices. Among stocks on the move, Aviva was lower after the CEO forecast a tough second half. Arla Foods was lower after the company said full-year profit will miss analysts' estimates by as much as 10%. BAE Systems rose after winning a £100 million Northrop Grumman contract. Corin Group fell as the company expects full-year profit to be "slightly" below analysts' estimates as sales were curbed in the first half.

Germany's DAX index fell 36.74 points, or 0.73%, to 4,953.93 as oil prices rose. Traders were ignoring reports that Eurozone second-quarter GDP rose 0.3%, and Germany's domestic economy expanded in the second quarter for the first time in almost a year, reports Standard & Poor's MarketScope. Schering was higher on rumors Novartis might make a bid for it. Deutsche Telekom fell as the company's second-quarter net income rose less than expected 63%.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index lost 18.01 points, or 0.4%, to 4,509.1. Air France-KLM fell even though the carrier reported first-quarter sales rose 5.5%. Suez, the subject of takeover speculation, was a bit lower on profit taking.

Asian markets rallied for a second day on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 165.24 points, or 1.37%, to 12,262.32 on optimism toward economic growth after the Bank of Japan raised its growth assessment Tuesday after the close of trading. Investors ignored the poor showing on Wall Street yesterday and a rise in benchmark crude oil above $65 in Asian trading, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index climbed 98.79 points, or 0.64%, to 15,445.2. Gains in China Mobile, HSBC Holdings, and Hutchison Whampoa supported the Hang Seng's rise. These three stocks account for about half of the market capitalization for the index, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

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