London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was down 18.6 points, or 0.42%, to 4,442.9 as traders look to the U.S. market for direction. Elan Corp. was higher after the company said its fourth-quarter loss narrowed. CRC Group was lower after the company reported 2003 net income fell due to a decline in sales to Nokia, its biggest customer. Kingfisher was higher after the company said full year earnings are likely to be at the high end of estimates.
In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 5.2 points, or 0.14%, to 3,709.02. Air France was higher after the airline said third-quarter EPS rose 33%. Thales was lower; it said sales fell due to currency differentials.
Germany's DAX index fell 0.52 point, or 0.01%, to 4,095.34. VDMA says 2004 plant and machinery production are expected to rise 2% in 2004. It says the stronger euro is hampering Germany's recovery. The euro was up at $1.2891, but down from high above $1.29.
Asian markets finished mixed Wednesday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell 24.32 points, or 0.23%, to 10,676.81. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 112.94 points, or 0.82%, to 13,928.38.
Canada's benchmark S&P/TSX felll 49.27 points, or 0.56%, to 8,717.83.