In the UK the FTSE 100 Index has gained 0.1% to 5376.6 at its opening this morning led by Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Dettol antiseptics.
Reckitt advanced after agreeing to buy Boots' over-the-counter medicines unit rising 3.3% to 1,764p so far this morning. The company has agreed to buy the Boots unit for £1.93bn to add products including Clearasil acne medicine. Boots shares have also gained 1.3% to 630p.
But there were some losers. Cable & Wireless, Britain's second-largest phone company, has tumbled after forecasting a drop in first-half sales slumping 15% to 120.5p. The company says first-half UK revenue is estimated to decline by 6% to £765m from a year ago because of a drop in retail- service sales.
BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, has also fallen 1.8% to 840p. Rio Tinto Group, the No.3 miner, has dropped 1.5% to 2,235p .
Another loser is London Stock Exchange which has fallen 8p, or 1.4%, to 570p. Computershare, the world's biggest share registrar, says it doesn't plan to be part of any bidding group for LSE, Europe's largest equity market, despite newspaper reports to the contrary.
Other stocks that have seen a rise this morning include J Sainsbury which has climbed 2.75p, or 1%, to 282.75. The UK's No.3 supermarket chain says quarterly same-store sales excluding gasoline rose 2.8%, the most in four years.
Another winner is Waterman Group whose shares have climbed 8p, or 6.4%, to 133p. The engineering company that advised on developing Paternoster Square, the new home of the London Stock Exchange, says full-year net income rose to £1.91m from £1.41m and it sees "further progress" this fiscal year.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 131.77 points, or 1%, to 13,227.74 at its close a short time ago with exporters such as Kyocera leading the decline after a US Federal Reserve official said policy makers must prevent an "inflation virus" from disrupting the world's biggest economy.
Concerns that inflation in the US may prompt the Fed to raise interest rates, damping economic growth in Japan's biggest trading partner, have weighed on stocks this week.
Kyocera, the world's largest maker of ceramic packaging used to protect finished microchips, declined 260 yen, or 3.3%, to 7,740. Other losers included Nissan, the second-largest car manufacturer in Japan, which fell 13 yen, or 1%, to 1,275. Fanuc, Japan's largest industrial robotics maker, declined 250 yen, or 2.7%, to 9,000, while Tokyo Electron, whose customers include Intel, dropped 170 yen, or 2.8%, to 5,830.
There were some winners as Sumitomo Trust & Banking led gains by lenders after first-half profit beat its forecast .
Sumitomo Trust, Japan's fifth-largest bank by assets, jumped 38 yen, or 4.5%, to 884. The Osaka-based lender said its net income has risen to 50 billion yen for the six months ending September from 48.8 billion yen the previous year.
Mizuho Trust & Banking, a unit of Mizuho Financial Group, Japan's second-biggest lender, added 7 yen, or 3%, to 244 after it announced earlier in the week net income would probably have more than doubled from the previous year to 24 billion yen. Mizuho Trust Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the third-largest lender, gained 32,000 yen, or 3.4%, to 988,000 .
Among the best performers, Tokyo Broadcasting System, Japan's third-biggest broadcaster, surged 240 yen, or 8%, to 3,240 after it was reported that shareholder activist Yoshiaki Murakami's MAC Asset Management increased its stake in the company.
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30.26 points to 10,287.10, as stocks fell for a third straight session despite a solid outlook at General Electric and modest but better-than-expected retail-sales reports .
General Electric said it was on track for another strong quarter as it gained $0.91 to $33.59. The company is seen as a barometer of the overall economy due to its media, industrial and healthcare businesses, and it pleased investors with its steady profit outlook. The company also added $1bn to its stock-buyback program.
Encouraging sales at Wal-Mart and other retailers also helped the market post early gains. Wal-Mart rose $0.43 to $43.93 after the retailer said its sales for stores open at least a year rose 3.8%, in line with analysts' expectations.
There were also gains for Microsoft, which added $0.06 to close at $24.73 a share, and Boeing rose $0.88 to $67.93.
But the market retreated after Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher reiterated his belief that inflation was rising near the high end of the Fed's comfort zone. Some investors also awaited the government's key employment report which is expected to detail job losses from the Gulf Coast hurricanes.
A sell-off in the high-flying energy sector was caused by crude oil dropping down to $61.36 a barrel, and small-cap and technology stocks also suffered as investors moved into larger, more established companies.IFAonline
Marcus Brookes appointed CIO
In association with Professional Adviser
Mortgages Market Study
Latest news and analysis