LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock indices edged higher Wednesday, helped by some good corporate news, following a mixed day for Asian markets.
In Frankfurt, the DAX was up 0.39% at 9,044.44, while in Paris the CAC 40 gained 0.78% to 4,286.35.
Star performers on the French exchange included engineering company Alstom, whose first-half operating profit declined less than expected as orders fell. The company said it will sell up to 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in assets, including a minority stake in its transport division, and cut costs.
In the Netherlands, ING Groep (ING) rose on announcing an increase in third-quarter "underlying" profit. More importantly, the financial services group said it had thrashed out a plan with state aid watchdogs at the European Commission that will allow it to complete its restructuring by the end of 2016, two years earlier than expected. The EC will let it bundle its hard-to-shift Japanese insurance business with its European insurance activities and begin disposing of the combined business through an IPO next year.
The European Central Bank meets Thursday and few observers expect any change to the 0.5% benchmark rate despite mounting evidence the eurozone economy could do with an adrenalin shot. Bank of England rate setters also meet Thursday and look set to come under increasing pressure in the months ahead to move in the opposite direction.
In London, the FTSE 100 edged up 0.15% to 6,757.10 as a report showing industrial output had risen more than expected in September, according to the Office for National Statistics. Output increased 2.2% year-on-year, whereas the consensus forecast had been for a rise of 1.8%.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down little changed at 23,036.94, while mainland Chinese indices posted sharper losses as members of the Communist Party prepare to convene in Beijing for an economic planning meeting. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 climbed 0.79% to 14,337.31. Toyota (TM) may rise sharply Thursday after lifting its full-year profit forecast after the close of trading.