European equities stable on strong earnings, M&A activity

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Aug 12 (Reuters) – European stocks held steady on Thursday, trading just below record highs as strong earnings from a group of insurers and UK mergers and acquisitions helped offset the drop in miners .

The pan-European STOXX 600 index remained stable in morning trading after eight consecutive days of record gains.

UK insurer Aviva rose 1.8% after announcing it would return at least 4 billion pounds ($ 5.5 billion) to shareholders, while Zurich Insurance Group AG added 2.2% in reporting a 60% jump in operating profit in the first half of the year.

Dutch insurer Aegon NV jumped 6.5% after posting much better-than-expected second-quarter profit.

Dragging in the miners, UK-listed shares of global miner Rio Tinto fell 6.1% on ex-dividend trading.

Cineworld Group rose 7.2% after saying it was considering listing itself or partially listing its Regal movie channel on Wall Street.

Stock Spirits Group jumped 42.5% of funds as funds affiliated with private equity firm CVC agreed to take over the London-listed vodka maker in a deal valuing it at £ 767million ($ 1.1 billion). (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bangalore; editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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