Germany's DAX index lost 32.94 points, or 0.85%, to 3,851.22. Hannover Re was lower as company officials expect 2004 earnings to be at the lower end of the company's forecast range due to higher costs caused by hurricanes Charley and Frances in the U.S. Allianz and Munich Red fell in sympathy with Hannover. DaimlerChrysler was lower on a report that German new car sales fell 3.1% in August due to higher oil prices and lower consumer confidence.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index was down 25.53 points, or 0.69%, to 3,652.02. Cap Gemini was lower as company said its first half loss widened due to cost overruns on some North American contracts. Havas was lower on reports the company will bid an undisclosed amount for New York-based Grey Global advertising.
Asian markets finished lower on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 108.23 points, or 0.86%, to close at 11,170.96. Japan's private sector machinery orders fell 11.3% month over month in July. Recent gainers fell on profit-taking, with shipping firm Mitsui O.S.K. sinking 2.25% while NTT dropped 1.46% after Nihon Keizai reported that KDDI would launch a cheaper fixed-line phone service than NTT by March. UFJ Holdings was down 2.11% on news that it is set for a half-year loss of over US$6 billion. On the economic front, Japan's current account surplus rose 8.2% year over year in July.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index lost 107.76 points, or 0.83%, to close at 12,942.20 with properties continuing to lose ground.