In the UK, the FTSE 100 Index of leading shares has declined 18.2 points, or 0.3%, to 5398.2 in morning trading paced by Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator, which has dropped 71p, or 2.4%, to 2,894p.
Crude oil for November delivery rose as much as 2.1% to $67.60 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have surged 54% this year.
Kingfisher, the world's third-largest home-improvement retailer, dropped 3.75p,or 1.7%, to 223.25p. Buyers of the stock today aren't entitled to the first-half dividend of 3.85p.
Antofagasta, Xstrata, Gallaher Group, Hammerson and InterContinental Hotels Group are all trading without the right to the latest dividends which may be impacting on the FTSE’s progress today.
Aegis Group, the world's largest independent buyer of advertising space, jumped 22.5p, or 19%, to 143p. The company said it received a takeover bid valuing the company at £1.56bn, or 140p a share.
Business Post Group, a parcel-delivery service competing with the UK’s state-owned Royal Mail Group, has slumped 144p, or 22%, to 507p. The company says it expects fiscal 2006 pre-tax profit to fall substantially from last year.
Jessops, the UK’s biggest specialist photography retailer, declined 10.75p, or 14%, to 87.75p. The company says sales in stores open at least a year fell 2.6% in the 25 weeks through to 18 September as consumer spending and selling prices dropped.
In Japan, stock indexes rose to four-year highs in the busiest day since trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange started more than five decades ago the Nikkei 225 Stock Average gaining 48 points, or 0.4%, to 13,196.57 at its close a short while ago.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group paced a gain in banks after a government report showed an increase in Tokyo land prices for the first time in 15 years and a central bank official said deflation may end next month.
Sumitomo Mitsui, Japan's third-largest lender, gained 20,000 yen, or 2%, to 1.03 million. Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group, the nation's No.2 lender, gained 20,000 yen, or 1.6%, to 1.24 million yen.
Meanwhile UFJ Holdings Inc, Japan's fourth-largest bank, gained 16,000 yen, or 2.1%, to 764,000.
Expectations that land prices will rise may spur demand for mortgages and lower the likelihood of defaults on outstanding loans backed by real estate. Lending rose in August, after adjusting for factors such as currency fluctuations, securitizations and bad loan write-offs, in the first gain since the Bank of Japan started tracking the figures in October 1998.
Rising prices may also signal an end of Japan's near-zero interest rates, enabling banks to earn more from loans.
Honda Motor Co, Japan's third-largest car manufacturer, dropped 30 yen, or 0.5%, to 6,120. The company had more than 75% of its sales in North America last year. Rohm Co, which makes customized semiconductors used in consumer electronics, fell 80 yen, or 0.8%, to 10,070.
In the US, stocks fell after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for an 11th straight time, rather than pausing in response to Hurricane Katrina, and signaled it will make further increases.
Homebuilders such as D.R. Horton Inc. and retailers such as Kohl's Corp. led the Dow Jones Industrial Average on its downward path losing 63.05 points, or 0.6%, to 10,494.58 at its close late last night.
D.R. Horton, the second-largest builder by stock-market value, slid $1.72 to $34.55. Pulte Homes Inc, the biggest, fell $1.64 to $42.26.
Kohl's, a low-price department-store chain, lost $1.75 to $49.71. Home Depot Inc, the nation's biggest home-improvement chain, declined $0.80 cents to $38.73. Target Corp, the second- largest US discount retailer, fell $1.34 to $50.89.
Procter & Gamble Co, the largest US. household-products maker, added $0.45 cents to $56.01. The company said fiscal first-quarter per-share profit will still be $0.75 to $0.76, even after Katrina disrupted its Folgers and Millstone coffee businesses.IFAonline
The increase in minimum AE contributions has had little impact on opt-out rates - with cessations after April increasing by less than two percentage points, data from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) shows.
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