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European stock markets finished mixed on Thursday. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 gained 9.40 points, or 0.20%, to close at 4,805.30, with a strong performance from the telco, oil and gas, and defensive sectors helping to shore up a mixed bag of company results. Following positive news on share buybacks earlier in the week, mm02 and Vodafone both enjoyed a rise. Defensive stocks, mainly consumer staples and utilities, also outperformed. SABMiller impressed with a 28% increase in first half EBITA of $1.141 billion, beating forecasts. Cyclical stocks underperformed, with reports doing little to stimulate them after their recent run.
Germany's DAX lost 4.73 points, or 0.11%, to close at 4178.68, only slightly below Wednesday's record high. Some participants used the recent rally to take profits. The strength of the euro against the dollar continued to prey on the market but, overall, dealers reported positive sentiment prevailing with German funds starting to reallocate some cash back into equities for fear of missing out on an end-of-year rally. Among stocks performing well Thursday, Deutsche Boerse benefited from renewed global trading activity on its exchanges. HVB gained 2.9% after its CEO said trading profits will increase in the fourth quarter, while a business publication said the bank plans major cost cutting measures. Bayer ticked up 0.3% after it completed its Lanxess spinoff.
In Paris, the CAC-40 lost 13.75 pints, or 0.36%, to close at 3830.39. Tobacco stocks, benefiting from upgrades of Philip Morris by Goldman Sachs and Prudential, offset losses in techs amidst poor outlook statements from Applied Materials and Google. At home, Credit Agricole's disappointing third-quarter results brought down the stock and weighed on financials in general. Both JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank downgraded the bank, and various brokers expressed dissatisfaction with its quarterly performance. Cap Gemini was given a boost by Deutsche Bank as it added the stock to its Pan European Focus List.
Asian markets lost ground on Thursday with the Nikkei 225 losing 48.87 points, or 0.44%, to close at 11,082.42. Exporters slipped after the dollar fell to a near eight-month low against the yen. Automakers were hardest hit, with Toyota Motor slumping nearly 2% while Honda Motor declined 1.98%. Auto-related stocks such as Bridgestone and Denso Corp also edged lower. On the economic front, the Bank of Japan left its monetary policy unchanged, keeping its target volume of current account deposits at 30 trillion yen to 35 trillion yen.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 25.16 points, or 0.18%, to close at 13,799.82.
Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P fell 16.06 points, or 0.18%, to close at 8,971,54.