From Standard & Poor's European MarketScope
European indexes traded mixed Thursday morning. Crude prices edged below US$58/bbl after a sharp rise in US crude stocks and as OPEC ministers meet in Qatar later to formalize their first output cut since 2004. US futures indicated a lower open ahead of a string of earnings figures from Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), Coca-Cola (KO), Google (GOOG), Pfizer (PFE) and McGraw-Hill (MHP).
UK:The FTSE 100 index clawed back at mid-session, but was still trading in negative territory. Pharma and mining stocks managed to limit the losses caused by lower banks and oil. Insurer Prudential (PUK) (+1.19%) said nine month insurance APE sales rose 11% to £1.803 billion, while total UK APE sales fell 4% to £664 million. Drugmaker AstraZeneca (AZN) (+1.64%) submitted Seroquel SR to EU and Canadian authorities for approval.
Colt Telecom (-1.91%) posted a first-ever quarterly profit of €1.3 million. Sportingbet (-5.97%) said fiscal year pretax profit was up 75.24% to £71.5 million and is to take a £200 million charge following the disposal of the US business.
In other news, the Serious Fraud Office and MoD police raided four British premises this week as a new front opened in the corruption probe into BAE Systems (-1.01%), the FT wrote. In M&A news, Informa (+9.77%) said it has got an approach from Springer Science & Business Media, majority owned by Candover and Cinven.
France: The CAC 40 index (+0.02%) slipped from earlier gains to trade flat at mid-session. Atos Origin (+14.71%) flew sky high on news that Blackstone is in talks to buy it, City A.M. newspaper wrote. It said Blackstone may agree to pay between €3.4 billion and €3.6 billion (€51-€54 per share). Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to neutral from underperform.
Carrefour (+0.62%) could be interested in PPR's (-0.77%) FNAC unit, Challenges wrote. Areva (+0.33%) will form an alliance with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop and make nuclear power-generating equipment, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported. Essilor (+0.06%) posted nine months sales of €2.022 billion, +12.2% as reported, +7.8% like-for-like.
Michelin (+1.26%) plans to speed up its plan to increase sales, expand in Asia and improve productivity, its CEO said. There is an Acomplia setback in Germany as the country has decided its healthcare system shouldn't pay for Sanofi's (SNY)(-0.43%) new obesity drug, according to The WSJ. On the broker front, Goldman Sachs (-0.85%) cut the group's target to €56 from €57.
Germany: The Xetra-Dax index (-0.13%) remained lower at mid-session Thursday as the European earnings season got into full swing. Strong numbers come from Swiss drugs giant Novartis (NVS) and in-line figures from food behemoth Nestle. Serono ( 2 Next Page