Europe's major stock indexes were mostly lower at the end of the trading week Friday, mirroring a selloff in U.S. stocks, as reports banking giant Merrill Lynch faced further writedowns dampened investor sentiment. Unilever and L'Oreal also suffered sharp selling from broker downgrades.
Asian markets were also mostly lower at the close following the New York Times report that Merrill Lynchcould suffer $15 billion in losses from soured mortgage investments, almost twice its original estimate. Japan shed almost 2 percent and South Korea finished 2.3 percent lower.
"The fears about this subprime-mortgage problem ... have definitely been taking their toll and people don't know when the end is coming," James Hughes, Market Analyst at CMC Markets, told "European Closing Bell."
Uncertainty in the financial sector continued in Europe, where Swiss bank UBS said in a letter to shareholders that it cannot predict the final impact of the U.S. residential mortgage crisis on its subprime mortgage related securities, but expects its capital position to remain strong.
UBS shares ended flat.
In the UK, aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce said it plans to cut 2,300 jobs to help offset rising costs and the effect of the weak dollar, adding that the move would not affect 2007 results.
The takeover battle for Scottish & Newcastle continues, with the Heineken CEO telling a Dutch newspaper that he could not exclude a higher bid, after S&N rejected the 780 pence a share, or 7.6 billion pounds ($14.9 billion), offer it made together with Carlsberg.
And British buy-to-let mortgage lender Paragon announced a deeply-discounted, fully underwritten rights issue on Friday to raise 287 million pounds ($560 million).