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Europe Stocks Mixed, Japan's Nikkei Rises on Yen

By Jamey Keaten

PARIS -- After starting the day in negative territory, Europe's main indexes were mixed around midday as investors cautiously contemplated a further fall in value for the Japanese yen -- which sent the benchmark Nikkei index surging more than 2%.

Analysts predicted a subdued start to Europe's trading week with voters in Italy and Cyprus to cast ballots next weekend and Wall Street's closure for Presidents Day. Traders also had to digest news from the weekend meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers, which avoided upbraiding the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for introducing 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 fell 0.2% to 6,318.65. Germany's DAX climbed 0.2% at 7,605. France's CAC-40 lost 0.2% to 3,653.

U.S. stock markets are closed for the Presidents Day holiday.

Germany's central bank announced Monday that Europe's biggest economy was on track to avoid a recession as it shows signs of growth in the first three months of the year, reporting greater business optimism and easing fears of the euro-zone debt crisis.

The German economy shrank 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2012. The European Central Bank predicts the euro zone economy will shrink 0.3% in 2013 and only start to recover later this year. Growth is seen as pivotal to resolving the debt crisis by shrinking national debts relative to their economy and boosting tax revenue.

German industrial stocks were among the biggest risers on Monday, with automaker Daimler, Deutsche Telekom, and chemicals powerhouse BASF all rising about 1%. In France, Natixis shares soared more than 26% to 3.58 euros after the financial services firm announced a restructuring and plans for a one-time 2 billion euro, or 65 euro cents a share, distribution to shareholders this year.

Earlier, many eyes in Asia were on Japan, where the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo surged 2.1% to close at 11,407.87. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6% to 5,063.40. South Korea's Kospi was marginally higher at 1,981.91.

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