LONDON (TheDeal) -- European markets were relatively steady this morning, despite fears that Greece's latest request for a six-month extension to its $196 billion bailout might still fall on deaf ears among the more hardline of its European peers. Eurozone ministers are convening Friday afternoon in an emergency meeting to discuss the Greek approach.
Earlier, Greek banking stocks soared after the European Central Bank extended a further €3.3 billion in emergency assistance.
The Athens Stock Exchange General Index was up 2.18% at 866.02.
London's FTSE was down 0.07% at 6,893.00, while in Paris the CAC 40 was up 0.34% at 4,815.24. In Frankfurt, the DAX was up 0.17% at 10,979.37.
In London, Centrica (CPYYY) fell 8.3% to 257.8 pence a share after declaring a full-year net loss of £1.16 billion ($1.8 billion), compared with a net profit of £950 million in 2013, and cutting its dividend by 30% to 8.4 pence. The oil and gas explorer, which is also the owner of the U.K.'s biggest domestic gas supplier British Gas, blamed falling oil prices as well as mild winter weather in Britain, which allowed its customers to use less gas for heating.
Meanwhile British drinks can maker Rexam (REXMY) jumped 3.72% to 557.0 pence on the announcement of an agreed £4.3 billion ($6.6 billion) cash-and-shares buyout offer from Broomfield, Colo.-based Ball (BLL - Get Report) . The offer values Rexam's stock at 610 pence a share -- although a rise in the value of Ball's own stock since the calculation means the market value is now considerably more than that.
However, markets are braced for a long-drawn out regulatory process over the merger, with heavy conditions from antitrust authorities around the world before the deal can go ahead. In the U.S. alone the combined company would have a market share of 61%, and it would be 69% in Europe.
Ball said if regulators demand disposal of assets generating more than $1.58 billion in annual sales, it could walk away. But it has agreed to a breakup fee of £302 million if that happens.
Defense contractor BAE Systems (BAESY) slipped 0.3% to 520 pence, after announcing a fall of 8.5% in revenues to £16.5 billion, but suggesting that rising global tensions likely spelled an end to defense spending cuts in the U.S.
In Paris, Air France-KLM (AFLYY) nosedived 5% to €7.2 a share despite much improved results from its cost-cutting program. The Franco-Dutch carrier cut its 2014 net losses to €198 million ($225.8 million) from €1.83 billion the previous year. However because of 14 days of strikes by its pilots, which cost it €425 million last year, the airline made an operating loss of €129 million, compared with an operating profit of €130 million in 2013.
In Italy, newspaper publisher RCS MediaGroup was up 3.86% at €1.29 a share after receiving an offer for its books business, reportedly for about €120 million. The offer was from rival publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, which is controlled by the family of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 finished up 0.36% at 18,264.79. Hong Kong's market is closed for the lunar new year holiday.