Here’s how the day looks:
* Spreadbetters in London expect Britain's FTSE 100 index .FTSE to open 13 to 24 points lower, Germany's DAX .GDAXI is seen down 10 to 26 points and France's CAC 40 .FCHI is seen losing 7 to 22 points.
* The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended down 0.08 percent at 1,509.0 after trading in a tight band, but automakers rose on M&A speculation and upbeat broker comments. Double click on [.EU] for the closing European stocks report.
* U.S. Treasuries edged higher in Asian trading as jitters over geopolitical risks prompted investors to seek a safe haven in Treasuries.
Benchmark U.S. 10-year yields traded at around 4.5947 percent. Comparable 10-year euro zone government bonds yielded 4.027 percent. Double click on [US/] for the Treasury market report and [GVD/EUR] for the euro zone debt report.
* U.S. crude oil prices traded 1.6 percent higher at $64 a barrel, with traders still rattled by a brief $5 spike caused by a rumour, quickly dismissed by the United States, of some sort of conflict involving Iran. Double click on [O/R] to read the oil market report.
* The dollar fell against the yen as softer-than-expected U.S. consumer confidence data and lingering concern about a slowing housing market prompted more talk of Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.
The dollar fell 0.40 percent to 117.40 yen JPY=, after pushing up to around 118.00 yen earlier in the session.
Against the dollar, the euro held firm around $1.3350 EUR=, near the high of $1.3370 hit earlier in the session. Double click on [USD/] to read the forex market report.
* Tokyo's Nikkei average .N225 was 0.7 percent weaker at 17,238.0, hit by a fall in exporters. Double click on [.T] to read the Japanese stock market report.
* Gold prices XAU= briefly rose to $668.80 an ounce, their highest level in almost four weeks, tracking gains in oil prices which raises the metal’s allure as a hedge against inflation.
Gold prices then drifted to $664.7 compared with $662.9/$663.9 late in New York on Tuesday. Double click on [GOL/] to read the latest gold market report.
ABN AMRO AAH.AS, BARCLAYS (BARC.L)
ABN AMRO said it would let shareholders vote on proposals by hedge fund TCI for a shake-up of the bank, but recommended against the measures as it looks at a potential merger with Barclays.
For more, double click on [ID:nL28464298]
General Motors Corp. (GM.N) will not make a first-round bid for DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler unit, leaving just private equity firms and an auto parts supplier in the running, the Times reported.
For more, double click on [ID:nN27241996]
Vodafone will be eyed after shares in Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. 2332.HK slid to a five-month trough after reports said government scrutiny could delay its planned sale of $11.1 billion in Indian assets to Vodafone.
The chief executive of Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, told the Financial Times he was optimistic Beijing would eventually give him the green light to take a majority stake in a steel supplier based in China.
For more, double click on [ID:nL22659197]
British Airways Plc is contemplating a 1 billion pound bid for smaller rival bmi [BMID.UL], the Times reported.
For more, double click on [ID:7526056]
ENEL (ENEI.MI), AUTOSTRADE AUTS.MI, MEDIOLANUM MED.MI
Results are due from these companies.
Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata Plc said it would make a final decision in August on its Koniambo nickel project in New Caledonia, with first production possible by the end of 2010.
For more, double click on [ID:nSYD119304]
Raiffeisen International reported a 51 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit before one-off gains, beating analysts’ forecasts as income from lending and banking services grew faster than expected.
For more, double click on [ID:nVIE000953]
PERSIMMON (PSN.L), TAYLOR WOODROW TWOD.L, GEORGE WIMPEY WMPY.L
Housebuilder Persimmon, is considering a bid for rival Taylor Woodrow or George Wimpey in a move that would derail the 2.5 billion pound merger of the two, people familiar with the matter said.
Taylor Woodrow agreed to buy George Wimpey for more than 2.5 billion pounds in a nil-premium, all-share deal announced on Monday.
For more, double click on [ID:nL2767804]