The central part of Italy has been hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. The quake struck around 3:30 am local time on Wednesday, hitting the regions of Lazio, Umbria and Marche, about 87 mils north of Rome.
Buildings have been destroyed and at least 38 people are reported to have been killed.
European markets were gaining in mid-morning trading as investors await Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen's Friday speech in Jackson Hole.
Oil plummeted in Asia trading. West Texas Intermediate was recently down 1.73% at $47.27 and Brent Crude fell 1.34% to $49.29 a barrel. Prices had been up in afternoon trading in Europe yesterday after reports that Iran may be willing to freeze production to restore balance to the market.
In London, the FTSE 100 was recently down 0.22% at 6,853.43.
AstraZeneca (AZN) - Get Free Report lost 0.40% in morning trading after announcing it had sold its small molecule antibiotics to Pfizer (PFE) - Get Free Report in a deal that could be worth up to $1.5 billion.
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Advertising giant WPPundefined was up more than 6% in mid-morning trading after saying that a drop in the pound due to the U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union could help the country's ad market. WPP saw revenue rise by 11.9% in the first half of the year to £6.5 billion. Profit before tax had fallen 40.1% compared with the same time period last year to £425 million.
Mining stocks led the losers on the FTSE 100 this morning as commodity prices fell.
Glencore (GLNCY) was down 5.03%. In the first half of the year, earnings decreased 13% to $4 billion, in line with analysts' expectations. The company said it has stepped up its debt reduction program to combat falling earnings. It is now targeting net debt of between $16.5 billion and $17.5 billion by the end of the year. It had previously aimed for net debt of between $17 billion and $18 billion.
In Frankfurt, the Dax was up 0.27% to 10,621.34 and the Cac 40 was down 0.49% to 4,442.97.
Europe's largest economy Germany grew by 0.4% in the second quarter, in line with expectations, according to official numbers from statistics office Destatis.
The growth was lower than the 0.7% seen in the first quarter of the year.
Volkswagen (VLKAY) was down 0.24% in early trading. The company yesterday settled a dispute with suppliers that had stopped production on its flagship Golf model. Yesterday, the German car maker also agreed to hold settlement talks with several U.S. states over its emission-testing scandal.
Futures were recently steady, Dow Jones Industrial Average mini futures were up 0.01% and S&P 500 mini futures gained 0.03%.