However the Dow Jones climbed almost 60 points to 13,311, up +0.45%. Overnight, the Nikkei 225 lost -0.99% to 10,145 points.
BAE Systems - it issued a profits warning earlier this week - said this morning that it and the Government of the Sultanate of Oman have now agreed a contract for the supply of Typhoon and Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft to the Royal Air Force of Oman.
The contract, valued at approximately £2.5 billion, provides for the delivery of 12 Typhoon and 8 Hawk aircraft starting in 2017. However the so-called 'Salam' agreement to supply Typoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia still drags on.
"Should an agreement not be reached before the group's full-year results announcement," BAE said earlier this week, "the impact on 2012 trading guidance would be to reduce the group's underlying earnings per share by approximately 3 pence per share."
Next, Xstrata. Xstrata Zinc has announces plans to increase ore production by a further 33% to 1.6 million tonnes per annum at its high-grade Lady Loretta mine in north-west Queensland, Australia. Commercial-scale mining is due to commence in mid-2013; the expanded production rate of 1.6 million tonne per annum level is expected by 2016.
"The expansion project," he adds, "will allow the earlier recovery of resources from several of Lady Loretta's upper ore bodies and will increase the number of stoping levels available in the underground mine in future years."
Lastly, Regus has announces the terms of a cash offer by Marley Acquisitions Limited, a subsidiary of Regus, for the issued share capital of MWB Business Exchange Plc.
Under the terms of the Offer, Business Exchange Shareholders will receive 61.576 pence per ordinary share of 0.1 pence each in the capital of Business Exchange.
Regus recently announced it was partnering with Staples to open Business Hubs in four UK branches of the office supplies chain Staples with trial hubs opening on January 2 in Swindon, Reading, Sheffield and Birmingham.