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TheStreet Open House

[video] The Deal: European Markets Edge Higher

LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets edged higher Tuesday amid divergent economic data, while Asian stock indices closed mixed.

In London, the FTSE was up 0.28% at 6,749.39, while in Frankfurt the DAX gained 0.26% to 9,452.20. In Paris, the CAC 40 edged up 0.20% to 4,235.88.

Eurozone consumer price inflation slowed to an annual pace of 0.8% in December from 0.9% the month before, according to preliminary data from the European Commission's statistics arm; the figures matched consensus forecasts.  A falling inflation rate was the heart of the European Central Bank's shock decision in November to slash rates to 0.25%.

On a brighter note, German government figures showed that  unemployment in Europe's biggest economy  fell by a seasonally adjusted 15,000 in December to 2.97 million,  the largest decline in two years. The consensus forecast was for the ranks of jobless to drop only marginally. The unemployment rate remained level at 6.9%. In the U.K., meanwhile, an auto industry report showed 2013 new car sales rose to their highest since 2007 in further evidence of the country's consumer recovery.

In Copenhagen, shares in container shipping company AP Moller-Maersk got a boost on plans to sell a stake in its supermarket business to local co-owners  and  book a gain of about 14 billion Danish kroner ($2.6 billion).

In Paris, chemicals maker Air Liquide lost ground after UBS downgraded its recommendation to sell from neutral and reduced its price target.

In Hong Kong, Wal-Mart (WMT) supplier Li & Fung closed up 9.6% after a trading update stated that it had a "solid" end to  2013, and that it expects to hit its target of restoring  profitability back to 2011 levels after earnings declined in 2012.  It is working on a three-year plan, which it will present to investors in March.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.13% to 22,712.78. In Tokyo, the Nikkei dropped 0.59% to 15,814.37 as the yen retreated from a five-year low against the dollar.

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