European markets see red

A plunge on Wall Street overnight left FTSE 100 risers few and far between in early morning trading. At 9:06am the FTSE 100 index stood 54.50 points lower at 6,330.6 with the CAC 40 trading at 5594.21, a drop of 89.01 points. In Germany, the DAX 30 dipped 38.03 points to 7,761.59.

Rio Tinto topped the select few early on as shares in the UK mining group rose 71 pence to 4421 on talk of an imminent bid from BHP Billiton and confirmation that the group has acquired a further 2.6% of Alcan. Rio Tinto Canada now holds about 95.82% of Alcan’s outstanding shares.

Fellow miners were also among the main fallers as BHP Billiton shares fell 50 pence to 1,707 pence, Kazakhmys dropped 51 pence to 1,349, Xstrata was down to 3,115, 106 pence lower, Lonmin lost 102 pence to 3,166 and Anglo American was down 89 pence to 3,085.

Old Mutual, the UK and South African fund manager has confirmed that it is holding talks regarding the possible sale of a 60-70% stake in Mutual & Federal Insurance Co to investment vehicle, Royal Bafokeng Holdings. Old mutual shares were down 1.5 pence to 163.7 pence at 8:25am.

The UK merchant bank Close Brothers Group led the FTSE 250 risers at 8:58am, up 128 pence to 888 on news that it has received a 950 pence per share bid from broker Cenkos Securities, in conjunction with another bidder.

French press reports have suggested that Veolia Environnement’s waste management division plans to buy French metal recycling business Bartin Recycling Group. Shares in Veolia Environnement were trading at €61.51, €0.96 lower.

The CEO of Spanish utility Gas Natural SDG has said the group may consider launching a bid for Distrigaz, the Belgian utility currently owned by Suez.

Shares in French insurer April Group were 2.42% lower at €45.55 as the company confirmed it has agreed to buy a majority stake in France’s Assinco for an undisclosed amount.