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LONDON -- It was a bits-and-pieces morning in London: plenty of trading statements and news items, mostly positive, but no takeovers.

Earlier this morning, the

FTSE 100

was showing a gain of 90 points due to a rogue price for the

Royal Bank of Scotland

. But the market never really looked that good, and by midsession, the Footsie was down 7.2 points to 6,295.60 as punters locked away a few profits.

In early dealings, Royal Bank of Scotland was 84p higher at 10.63 pounds. You could drive a bus through the bid/ask spread of 970 pence to 10.70 pounds, and it subsequently fell 4p to 975.


move to demerge its cruise business to form a separate company saw its shares steam ahead 199p to 10.30 pounds.

Vodafone AirTouch

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confirmed it is in talks with



, which may lead to a recommended offer, and Vodafone's shares rose 8p in early trading before easing on profit-taking to stand 24p cheaper on balance at 361.

Now a negative.

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BP Amoco


took a bath, with the shares down 38p at 510. Investors were distinctly upset by the


decision to block the company's bid for


on the grounds that the deal would raise crude-oil prices.

Back at the ranch, the boys are still saddled up, waiting for a possible shootout at the media corral. The gunslingers were keeping a beady eye on



amid newspaper reports that the company has reached a decision on floating


and this will be announced next Tuesday alongside its annual results. All this lifted the shares 59p to 10.25 pounds before easing back to 985.

After yesterday's disaster,

British Telecom


rallied 41p to 10.17 pounds.

Lehman Brothers

upgraded the stock to a buy as it reckons British Telecom can only improve from here as the market recognizes its Internet activities.

On the Continent, the markets managed to eke out some gains on the back of strength in tech and media shares, despite the looming

European Central Bank

meeting. Still, there's some confusion over whether the ECB will raise rates now or wait a little. It's difficult to call with the euro so weak, but all will be revealed at around 12:45 London time.

By midsession, Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

was up 9.11 at 7,181.06 and the Paris

CAC 40

was up 92.28 at 6,039.14.

Among the biggest gainers were French phonemaker



, up 16.7 euros at 237.5, and cable company

United Pan-Europe Communications

, up 15.9 euros at 174.3.