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Europe Stocks Mixed, Japan's Nikkei Rises On Yen

By JAMEY KEATEN

PARIS (AP) â¿¿ Europe's main stock market indexes nosed higher on Monday as investors cautiously contemplated a further fall in value for the Japanese yen, which sent the benchmark Nikkei index surging more than 2 percent.

Analysts predicted a subdued start to the European trading week with voters in Italy and Cyprus to cast ballots next weekend and Wall Street's closure for Presidents Day.

Traders also digested the relative lack of criticism of Japan at a weekend meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has introduced measures that would have the knock-on effect of driving down the yen in a bid to help manufacturers.

After starting the day in negative territory, Europe's main indexes were mixed around midday. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent to 6,318.65. Germany's DAX climbed 0.4 percent at 7,624.8. France's CAC-40 gained 0.2 percent to 3,667.

In a brief research note Monday, Credit Agricole's global market research department said it expects the markets' focus to remain this week on the prospects for recovery among the 17 European Union countries that use the euro. An EU economic forecast is expected out on Friday.

Earlier, Germany's central bank said Europe's biggest economy was on track to avoid a recession amid signs of growth in the first three months of the year. The German economy shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The European Central Bank predicts the eurozone economy will shrink 0.3 percent in 2013 and only start to recover later this year.

Also Monday, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said he is sticking to the Socialist government's increasingly tenuous goal to cut France's state budget deficit to 3 percent of economic output by year-end. France, which officially still expects growth of 0.8 percent this year, has taken deficit-reduction measures â¿¿ but the state auditor cautioned last week that the level could in fact rise to 4.5 percent.

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