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Spanish Unemployment Falls, German Car Sales Rise

European markets were gaining ground by mid-morning after continuing yesterday¿s losses in early trading. Fears of further profit taking at start of play Friday, after yesterday¿s drop of 1.6% across the region, were gradually reversed.

Spanish unemployment fell sharply in December, with some improvement even in the difficult youth employment market. But there was still 26% unemployment in Spain in the third quarter as a whole. Investor George Soros also followed Microsoft¿s Bill Gates into Spanish construction group FCC ¿ a bellwether for the Spanish economy. Reports that Soros bought a 3.1% stake in FCC ¿ sent the stock up 3.6% in morning trading.