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European Indexes Post Losses

A roundup of Thursday's action on major European exchanges

LONDON

The FTSE 100 closed sharply lower, with Wall Street in the red on weak figures from Wal-Mart and Cisco, and higher-than-forecast jobless claims. At home, the BoE warned on inflation, after lowering rates by 25bps to 5.25% as expected. The ECB kept rates on hold at 4%. On the news front, GLAXO (-7.63%) posted below forecast FY07 EPS, saying that generics competition and falling Avandia sales will hit FY08 EPS. BG (+3.81%) unveiled 4Q earnings ahead of estimates and raised FY dividend by 30%. There were reassuring 4Q numbers from UNILEVER (-3.44%), with 4Q sales growth ahead of estimates. It sees UL sales growth in 2008 towards the upper end of a 3-5% target range. ROLLS-ROYCE (-10.21%) reported solid FY figures, but raised shareholder payout by only 35%, some way short of expectations. BT (-9.8%) announced an in-line 3Q. BRITISH LAND (-1.3%) unveiled a larger-than-expected 16.7% drop in 3Q NAV. YELL (-15.23%) published 9M results in line and said it is on track to meet FY earnings and cash expectations despite toughened trading conditions, particularly in the UK. EASYJET’s (-6.41%) January traffic arrived up 7.3%, and the group has kept FY guidance of an improvement of around 20% in PTP y/y. LADBROKES (-0.52%) has bet on Northern Ireland bookmaker Eastwood, buying it for GBP117.5m.