European Stocks Rise After Fed Statement, Ahead of Scotland Vote

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European markets opened higher Thursday after the  Federal Reserve said Wednesday interest rates would stay low for a considerable time. However, with London still focused on the outcome of Thursday's Scottish independence referendum, the FTSE 100 rose less than its continental peers, though it seemed to catch up as the morning wore on.

One reason for London's cautious optimism was the latest reading on U.K. consumer activity. Retail sales were up 0.4% month ononth in August, boosted by sales of high-powered vacuum cleaners ahead of new European rules restricting the sale of energy-sucking machines. The annual figure of 3.9% was slightly below expectations, but still reflected the 17th straight month of growth.

The FTSE was up 0.47% at 6,812, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was up 0.71% at 4,463. In Frankfurt, the DAX was up 0.9% at 9,748. Moscow's MICEX Composite was up 0.2% at 1,455.

In Germany, pharmaceuticals and chemicals group Bayer was up 4.8% after announcing plans to spin out its plastics division and concentrate on drugs and agricultural products. However, industrial group Siemens SI was down 0.4% after an analysts' report from BNP Exane said investors should take profits.

Also in Germany, online shoes and fashion retailer Zalando -- which was incubated as a start-up by soon-to-float VC Rocket Internet AG -- set the pricing range of its shares at between 18 euros and 22.5 euros. The company hopes to raise up to 633 million euros ($1.03 billion).

In London, budget airline EasyJet (ESYJY) took off on the news it is raising its dividend to 40% of after-tax profit, up from a third, as well as ordering new Airbus jets. The share was up 2.09% at 1,366 pence.

But mobile payments company Monitise  (MONIF) fell by 25.88% to 31.5 pence, after credit card giant Visa (V) said it had hired JPMorgan Securities to assess its investment in the business and taper its influence there. Visa also said it will be reducing its dependence on external mobile development resources. The two have an agreement that Monitise will provide mobile development services to Visa through 2016. Visa still has a 5.5% stake in Monitise, although that is less than the 14.4% it owned when it first invested in 2009.

Meanwhile in Japan, the Nikkei closed up 1.13% at 16,067.57. Hong Kong's Hang Seng reversed much of Wednesday's 1% gain to finish down 0.85% at 24,168.72.

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