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European Stocks Fall as U.S. Authorizes Airstrikes in Iraq

LONDON ( The Deal) -- Jitters and risk aversion are the themes across Asia and Europe Friday as the prospect of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, renewed violence in Gaza and a steady increase in tension in Ukraine all bear heavily on the mood.

Asian and European markets followed Wall Street down overnight, with Tokyo losing almost 3% to close at 14,778.37, its worst single-session performance since February. China bucked the Asian trend, however, after announcing much better-than-expected export figures for July. Government data showed a rise of 14.4% compared with the same month last year, which was more than double analysts' prediction of 7%. The Shanghai composite closed up 0.31% at 2,194.42. Another outlier was Moscow, where the MICEX was up 1.14% at 1,348.7.

Germany's DAX index dropped nearly 1% to fall below the psychological 9,000 mark. At 8,952.75, it's now more than 10% below its June peak. It hasn't helped the German market that China's antitrust probe into foreign automakers has hit the shares of the big German brands, Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, down 1.72% at 162.75 euros, 1.07% at 58.32 euros and 1.15% at 85.21 euros, respectively.

French digital security provider Gemalto was up 4.4% on news of its $890 million agreement to acquire Belcamp, Md., peer SafeNet from Vector Capital. Amsterdam-listed Gemalto said it will fund the deal from its balance sheet and existing credit facililities and that the acquisition will add about 10% to its previous profit expectations of 600 million euros ($800 million) by 2017.

The CAC 40 was down 0.43% at 4,142.

In London, where the markets were absorbing the news that the U.K.'s goods trade deficit for June was bigger than expected but the construction sector was doing better, the FTSE 100 was down 0.71% at 6,550.

Meanwhile in Asia, shares in Malaysia Airlines were suspended after news overnight that the country's Khazanah sovereign wealth fund is to take the company private after two disasters this year -- the mysterious disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17 in rebel held Eastern Ukraine. Kazanah plans a full corporate restructuring, but that may not be enough to restore a tarnished brand, which was already losing money before this year's tragedies.

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