In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 ended flat (5477.70). 56 FTSE stocks were higher and 36 were lower on turnover of 1.632 billion shares. Local newsflow was still supporting some positive sentiment as Tesco (+0.65%) announced an asset swap with French rival Carrefour. Glaxo (+0.70%) offloaded its dermatology business to Germany's Altana. SABMiller (+1.19%) was marked higher thanks to an upbeat report from Deutsche Bank, with the broker raising the target to GBP12.50. Man Group (-0.12%) saw some profit-taking erasing morning gains, which had been on the back of first half fully diluted earnings per share announced to be up 20% year over year. Morgan Crucible (+6.74%) was very well bid as it was selling its magnetics unit for GBP225 million to One Equity Partners.
Germany's DAX Index rose 22.95 to 5044.12. 21 DAX stocks rose and 9 fell on turnover of 101,515,907 shares. Key on the German corporate news front today, an unnamed DaimlerChrysler (-0.81%) supervisory board member reportedly said the auto group rules out a stake in VW (+1.73%); nor is a crossholding planned. Talks with VW are underway, but about co-operation in specific products. Elsewhere, 6 bidders have submitted final offers for the non-prescription drugs arm of UK retailer Boots. Bayer's (+0.83%) offer is said to be between GBP1.4 billion and GBP1.45 billion. Lufthansa (-0.54%), together with Metro (+0.52%), is selling around 60% of loyalty card operator Payback, and booking a profit of about EUR 100 million from sales in the third quarter. Schering (+1.19%) was higher following a positive study on its Betaferon drug. On the broker front, Citigroup upgraded Infineon (+2.51%) to buy from hold, seeing upside to the current stock price if the chip group was broken up. Deutsche upgraded Bilfinger (+5.24%) to buy from hold.
In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 21.16 to 4600.02. 30 CAC stocks were down and 10 were up on turnover of 86,857,471 shares. The mood in Paris remained one of relief as the unemployment rate fell for the third consecutive month in August, to 2.71 million, while the jobless rate stayed at 9.9%. Investors focused on Carrefour (+1.32%), procuring gains on news it is swapping assets with UK's Tesco. The French food retailer has agreed to swap hypermarkets in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in return for Tesco stores in Taiwan and cash. Index heavyweight Sanofi (+1.63%) was higher as it is given a hearing date for the Allegra generics case against Teva, Barr and Ranbaxy on 27 October. The financial sector looked east as Axa (+0.88%) is holding talks to create an asset management joint venture with China's Pudong Bank, of which it would keep a 40% stake. Accor (+0.77%) lost earlier gains but remained positive as CapGem's Pierre Danon could replace Jean Michel Espalioux at the helm of the group. BNP-P (+1.04%) rose after acquiring Belgium's J.Van Breda. STM (+3.32%) rose after JP Morgan said many business divisions are experiencing a very strong quarter.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 42.94 points (0.32%) to 13,574.30. Stocks in Tokyo pulled back after a big rally Thursday, reflecting profit taking and weaker-than-expected industrial output data. Underperforming the tech-laden Nikkei 225, the broad-based TOPIX index tumbled 15.85 points, or 1.11%, to 1412.28.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index finished marginally lower at 15,428.52. Losses in large-cap plays including China Mobile and Wharf Holdings weighed on the Hang Seng.