By Barbara Kollmeyer and Brad Frischkorn
European stocks barely budged Friday as U.S. economic data inspired some buying but investors appeared reluctant to hold onto stocks into the weekend, with next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting and midterm elections looming.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.02% to 265.96 on the last trading day of the month, for a second-straight win. The index was up 2.4% for the month.
In Asia, Japanese stocks ended at a seven-week low as disappointing economic data and a strong yen more than offset generally good corporate earnings.
In LONDON , the U.K. FTSE 100 index closed off 0.1% at 5675.16, ending the month up 2.3%. Utility companies gained after Scottish & Southern Energy /zigman2/quotes/204546319/delayed UK:SSE -0.26% said it was raising prices for household gas by 9.4% on Dec. 1. Its shares rose 3.4%. Centrica climbed 3.2%, Severn Trent added 2% and United Utilities Group /zigman2/quotes/203908003/delayed UK:UU -0.11% gained 1.2%.
British Airways dropped 3.6%. The airline said it returned to six-month profit, but it was cautious on the outlook for its business.
In PARIS , utility shares also rose but the CAC 40 index slipped 0.04% to 3833.50, although it added 3.2% for the month. GDF Suez rose 1.5% and Electricite de France gained 0.4%.
In FRANKFURT , the DAX 30 index added 0.1%, for a monthly gain of 6% to 6601.37. BMW /zigman2/quotes/209548467/delayed DE:BMW -1.33% rose 3.3% after an upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" by Goldman Sachs, which said it continues to see "significant value" in the auto sector.
Metro AG led decliners, falling 1.6% after HSBC cut it to "neutral" from "overweight," saying the firm's valuation is now in line with its peers.
In TOKYO , the Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.8% to close the month at 9202.45, as the familiar tale of the strong yen dented demand for exporters. The index has fallen for five of the past seven months.
Sharp /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 +0.79% tumbled 5.8% after cutting its fiscal-year profit forecast by 40%. Nintendo lost 1.9% after saying Thursday that it swung to a net loss for the April-September period.
Nissan Motor /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 -0.42% tumbled 3% and Advantest, a maker of chip-testing systems, skidded 9%. Citing worries over delays in orders, Nomura Securities cut its rating on Advantest to "reduce from "neutral."
Bucking the market, Hitachi jumped 4% after raising its fiscal-year profit outlook, while Komatsu rose 1.8% after it raised its full-year net profit forecast on strong equipment sales.
Mitsubishi Electric /zigman2/quotes/207150000/delayed JP:6503 -1.22% gained 3.3% after posting a return to profit in the fiscal first half.