In Germany, the DAX lost 18.24 points, or 0.42%, to close at 4353.15. Frankfurt rallied, albeit briefly, to post a new two-year high, but drifted off to close lower. Slightly disappointing guidance from Schering and dwindling hopes for further consolidation within the German banking sector contributed to a subdued atmosphere today. Fundamentals (US dollar, lower oil) remain strong, however, and dealers expect the Dax to sustain upwards momentum. The pharma sector was in focus today, with Schering falling 2.6% after releasing fourth-quarter figures which were above expectations, but disappointing with a smaller dividend and profit outlook. Deutsche Bank fell 1.4% after being cut to hold at SocGen. DBoerse gained 1.2% after Euronext unveiled its strategy for incorporating the London Stock Exchange within its organisation. Lufthansa released January passenger traffic figures, which showed traffic rose 6.8% last month as travellers clocked up more air-miles.
France's CAC-40 lost 11.15 points, or 0.28%, to close at 3969.62. At home, CNP and Havas rallied after tabling better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales. Euronext surged 5.36% on major volumes in afternoon trading as the bidding war for LSE is seen hotting up after LSE this afternoon reported that January was its busiest ever month of trading. France Telecom rose 0.3% after majority-owned Mobistar said it will pay a gross dividend per share of 2.0 euro, as expected. FT is due to post results tomorrow. French autos outperformed, fuelled by Renault's strong fiscal year results yesterday. Other key results tomorrow include SocGen, Lagardere, and Clarins.
Asian markets were lower on Wednesday. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 lost 17.08 points, or 0.15%, to close at 11,473.35. The lower close occurred despite a drop in the yen versus the dollar. Yen weakness generally draws buyers to Japanese exporters, but the dollar's strength did little to inspire buying of exporters. Part of the reluctance to make a big commitment might have been the result of balanced portfolios ahead of February options settlements. Automakers including Toyota and Nissan made small advances in heavy volume. Decliners were led telecom and high-tech.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng was closed for Chinese New Year.
Canada's benchmark TSX/S&P was 9.95 points, or 0.11% higher, closing at 9,402.63.