LONDON (TheDeal) -- European markets are mixed Thursday, as investors await news of the Bank of England's announcement of its latest interest rate decision at midday. No one is expecting a change this month, but this is the first outing for the bank's new Super Thursday arrangement, when it publishes the rate together with the minutes of the rate setting meeting and its inflation outlook report all at one go and follows it up with a press conference 45 minutes later.
Investors will look to see if the unanimity of previous meetings has given way to a split vote on raising the interest rate, and the language used, that will help to gauge whether a rate hike is likely towards the end of the year -- or sooner, or later.
London's FTSE 100 was down 0.46% mid-morning at 6,727.51, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was down 0.19% at 5,187.04. In Frankfurt, the DAX fell back 0.09% to 11,626.1, after spending the early part of the morning in positive territory on some strong company results.
In the pharmaceuticals sector Shire(SHPG) - Get Report is down about 1.2% at 5,405 pence on speculation it will have to raise its $30 billion offer for Baxalta (BXLT) to have a hope of clinching a deal.
Meanwhile all eyes will be on Pfizer(PFE) - Get Report when the U.S. markets open this morning, after the U.K. competition regulator alleged that the U.S. pharma giant and its U.K. partner Flynn Pharmahave been overcharging Britain's National Health Service for an important epilepsy drug.
U.K. Insurer Aviva (AV) was up 1.33% at 534.5 pence after reporting a 25% jump in the value of new business in the first half of the year, and a boost in life insurance demand. The result also is the first to reflect its recent merger with Friends Life. Aviva increased its dividend by 15%.
German insurance giant Munich Reinsurance rose 2.65% to €175.4. The world's biggest reinsurer raised its full-year profit forecast to at least €3 billion ($3.3 billion), up from a previous range of €2.5 billion to €3 billion, crediting a fall in natural disaster payouts for better-than-expected first-half figures.
German sports shoe giant Adidas (ADDYY) rose by over 3% in early trading to a peak of €76.41 before sliding back, after the company said falling sales of golf clubs had held back growth and that it had hired advisers to look at the sale of the golf business.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 finished the day up 0.24% at 20,664.44, but elsewhere indices closed down. Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 0.57% down at 24,375.28, while in China, the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.89% to 3,661.54.
In Sydney, Australia, where bank shares led the market down on news of a A$3 billion ($2.2 billion) fund raising by Australia & New Zealand Banking (ANZBY) , the ASX closed down 1.13% at 5,610.10.