LONDON &

European markets rose on the heels of strong gains in Asian stocks today as investors were heartened by Wall Street's advance last week and by reports downplaying the impact of disastrous winter storms on China's broader economy.




Meanwhile, Wall Street fell today as investors, showing their cautious side after the market's best week in four years, cashed in profits while they debated their next move. Last week's rally on Wall Street led to its best five-day gain since March 2003.




Overseas investors also snapped up shares of major miners Rio Tinto and Aluminum Corp. of China on Friday's news that the Chinese company and Alcoa Inc. had bought a big stake Rio Tinto, listed in both Sydney and London.




In Europe, Germany's DAX index climbed 0.9 percent to 7,033.43, the FTSE 100 gained 0.2 percent to 6,040.70 while France's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent to 4,990.43.




European gains trailed those in Asia. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index surged 350.85 points, or 8.1 percent, to 4,671.62. The Shenzhen Composite Index of China's second, smaller market soared 7.9 percent to 1,375.73.




Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 3.8 percent to 25,032.08, and Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 2.7 percent to close at 13,859.70 points. Markets in South Korea and India also rose strongly.