) -- European markets started mixed Wednesday, buoyed by news of the U.S. budget deal, but with some evidence of profit-taking and with a little more caution in the air following a decline in Asian markets overnight.
In London, majority state-owned
Royal Bank of Scotland
was the biggest faller on the shock news that its finance director, Nathan Bostock, is defecting to rival Santander U.K. - the U.K. arm of Spain's
. He announced his departure after just 10 weeks in the job. Bostock was expected to play a major role in carving out an internal bad bank at RBS and his departure is likely to mean yet another delay in any sell-down of the government's stake.
Lloyds Banking Group
has been hit with a big fine for incentive schemes to employees which appear to have put the bankers' personal interests above those of retail customers.
But on the positive side, North American bus services drove British transport groups
First Group and
Stagecoach upward this morning. First Group was up 2.6% at 119 pence a share after rejecting calls from Sandell Asset Management to sell off its Greyhound and School bus division to pay down debt, while Stagecoach motored up nearly 3%, on good North American numbers at its Megabus brand.
In London, the FTSE 100 was more or less flat mid morning at 6,527, while the CAC40 in Paris was up 0.65% at 4,118. Frankfurt's DAX was up 0.2% at 9,132.5. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.62% at 15,515 on a stronger yen, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.71% to 23,338.24, mainly on weaker China plays.
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