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European Indexes Finish Higher

A roundup of Wednesday's action on major European exchanges


The FTSE 100 closed flat-to-higher, with US indices rebounding after yesterday's heavy losses and supported by good earnings figures from Walt Disney and Time Warner. At home, BHP BILLITON (-4.82%) retreated after announcing an improved US$147.74bn bid for rival RIO TINTO (-0.31%), which the latter rejected as too low. Investors now consider whether this will trigger a Chinese counterbid. Chinalco and Alcoa have said they will closely monitor the board response. Elsewhere, RECKITT BENCKISER (+4.39%) climbed after ABN Amro raised its forecasts. AVIVA (-1.15%) posted good 4Q numbers, with a 25% rise in total worldwide sales to GBP38.583bn. The insurer said the cost due to the UK's adverse weather rose to GBP475m, higher than estimated. BSKYB (+7.05%) gained despite 2Q net adds missing estimates, as churn fell to its lowest levels in three years and ARPU jumped to GBP421. DAILY MAIL (-1.54%) reported 1Q revenues up 2% y/y and said results were ahead of its expectations. DIAGEO (+1.18%) is to spend US$900m on a super-premium vodka j/v in the Netherlands. RDS (+0.11%) will fund a billion-dollar shortfall in the financing of its Nigerian operations, according to The Times. HOMESERVE (+4.48%) has said performance so far is in line. RM (-1.2%) has warned 1H08 profit will be down y/y. FKI (-1.52%) has said it is on track to report strong trading growth for FY08.