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Thursday's most followed - Fraud probe strikes Bank of England

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It was a mixed bag of news gaining traction on the web but the only story in town concerned the Bank of England.

The Serious Fraud Office has launched a probe into the UK central bank for the first time in the organisation (SFO'S) near 30 year history.

It concerns money market auctions and the bank's role in these at the height of the finacial crisis in 2007 and 2008.

The auctions may have been hit by the rigging scandal seen elsewhere in the City. As yet it is not clear whether the investigation will focus on traders in or outside the bank.

The topic was one of the most popular stories on Google finance.

Meanwhile, on the corporate front, Aviva shares added  5.45% to 561p and was the biggest gainer on the blue chip index after it unveiled a 6% rise in operating profits to £2.17bn and a 30% increase in its final dividend.

Aviva is acquiring Friends Life in a £5.6bn merger as changes in UK pensions put pressure on life insurance companies.

Aviva cautioned however that its recovery still had some way to go before it was complete.

UK house price news was as ever  a hot topic and data showing that they fell 0.3% last month - the first decline in four months - was gaining readers.

In small cap news, Aurasian Minerals (LON:AUM) soared up almost 50% to 0.32p  as it revealed details of the changes to the board flagged on 12 January.

Bruce Kay, vice-president of exploration at Aurasian, will join the board as non-executive chairman, taking over from Tony Shearer, who has previously indicated that he wanted to step down now that the companyis moving into an exploration stage.

Meanwhile, Genel (LON:GENL) shares added 8.47% to 608.5p as Tony Hayward has told investors he expects regular payments for crude exports from Kurdistan through 2015.

Genel Energy’s (LON:GENL) chief executive also revealed that the company has stepped up domestic oil sales in the first quarter.

“Given that this production is amongst the lowest-cost in the world, and domestic realisations strong, this provides a significant interim source of revenue until predictable export payments are in place,” Hayward said in today’s results statement.

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