The Deal: European Stocks Struggle for Direction

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European markets bounced off early lows Friday despite continued uncertainty over an early U.S. taper decision. But by mid-morning, the FTSE was back in negative territory and there seemed to be no clear direction Europe-wide.
 
In Paris, the CAC40 defied gravity and was up nearly 0.2%, after three days of declines, apparently on the assumption the taper from the Federal Reserve will be less severe than previously thought. But carmaker Peugeot plunged for a second day in a row following General Motors' ( GM) decision to sell its 7% stake in the company. The share lost 10% on top of Thursday's 7.6% decline.
 
In London, insurer RSA fell sharply on the resignation of its chief executive Simon Lee, and the news the company will have to inject 130 million pounds ($212 million) into its Irish business and its third profit warning in six weeks.
 
But on the technology front, chip desinger ARM Holdings ( ARMH), which specializes in mobile phone technology, said it bought global illumination technology company Geomerics. Global illumination makes computer games look more realistic with 3D lighting, and ARM wants to bring the technique to smartphones. ARM's share was up nearly 6% mid-morning at 1,026 pence. The FTSE 100 was down 0.02% at 6444 points, while in Germany, the DAX, which has been hovering above the 9,000 mark was up 0.12% at 9,028,12.
 
Europe's lack of direction comes despite stronger overnight markets in Asia. Japan's Nikkei was closed up 0.4% at 15,403, with the yen at a five-year low against the dollar and hopes the government may increase its stimulus measures to keep the country out of deflation.
 
Hong Kong was up slightly at 23,245, though well down on the week. And Australia, where the central bank has been talking down the exchange rate in the hope of boosting exports, the ASX 200 was up 0.7% at 5,098.43. Earlier in the week that market was also down on news that General Motors would be halting production in the country.

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