Europe Factors to Watch-Stocks set to rise; eyes on TNT
PARIS, Jan 14 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Monday, resuming their two-month rally and climbing along with the euro currency as investors continue to increase their exposure to the region on hopes the worst of the debt crisis is over. Comments from a top Federal Reserve official about the outlook for the U.S. economy also boosted sentiment on Monday. Shares in TNT Express will be in the spotlight after United Parcel Service said it will withdraw its takeover offer for the Dutch delivery group as it expects the European Commission to block the acquisition. Shares in TNT traded in Frankfurt were down 7.4 percent early. At 0722 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.3-0.5 percent. The euro gained 0.3 percent at $1.3386 on Monday, up a staggering 2.5 percent in three sessions, rallying in the wake of the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's more optimistic tone on the region's economic recovery late last week. The single currency and the region's equities have been strongly rallying in the past six months, boosted by bold measures from the ECB to resolve the debt crisis. Sentiment on Monday was also lifted by comments from top Fed official Charles Evans, who said the U.S. economy is expected to grow by 2.5 percent in 2013, improving to 3.5 percent growth in 2014, and U.S. unemployment rate would be 7.4 percent this year, easing to about 7 percent in 2014. Evans also said the Fed's decision last year to tie monetary policy to specific economic conditions should help boost the recovery without letting inflation take hold, and will provide additional accommodation by assuring markets that rates will remain low even after the economy perks up. Strong central action helped spark a recovery rally in stocks last year, and investors' appetite for equities continued to improve since the beginning of 2013. Weekly inflows into equity funds hit a five-year high during the first full week of January, according to EPFR Global, with inflows from retail investors reaching their highest level since the third quarter of 2009 and actively-managed funds recording their biggest inflows since EPFR started to track them 13 years ago. Europe equity funds enjoyed brisk inflows, with U.S.-domiciled funds extending their inflow streak to 22 straight weeks, EPFR data shows. Globally, flows into energy funds reached a 13-week high, while financial sector funds recorded their sixth straight week of inflows. Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0731 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,472.05 -0 % -0.07 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 560.23 0.41 % 2.26 EUR/USD 1.3381 0.31 % 0.0041 USD/JPY 89.56 0.45 % 0.4000 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.864 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 1.572 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,668.90 0.39 % $6.46 US CRUDE $94.28 0.77 % 0.72 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Yen under pressure, Asian stocks subdued > Wall Street ends flat as rally slows, earnings eyed > Yen hits 2-1/2-year low as Japan PM keeps pressure on BOJ > Gold inches up on stronger euro, physical buying > LME copper rebounds; China demand woes limit gains > Brent rises to near $111 on supply worries, econ revival hopes COMPANY NEWS: TNT EXPRESS UPS said it will withdraw its takeover offer for TNT Express. Shares in TNT traded in Frankfurt are down 7.5 percent. GENERALI Generali's boss Mario Greco vowed to deliver operating results of above 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) and to improve solvency margins beyond 160 percent under a new strategy that will hike investments in high-growth markets and rein in costs. SAINT-GOBAIN France's Saint-Gobain said on Monday it had entered exclusive talks with Irish bottle and packaging maker Ardagh Group after receiving a firm buying offer worth $1.694 billion for its Verallia North America glass packaging unit. CREDIT SUISSE Credit Suisse will cut its bonus pool for 2012 by 20 percent to around 2.3 billion Swiss francs ($2.52 billion), the fourth year in a row the Swiss bank has slashed payouts, a newspaper reported on Sunday. SWATCH Swatch Group said on Monday it was buying watch and jewellery brand Harry Winston HW.TO and its 535 employees for $750 million plus up to $250 million of net debt to complement its high-end watch portfolio. IBERDROLA SA Spain's Iberdrola SA has halted a plan to sell part of its Scottish Power unit, saying it had made better than expected progress in a planned 2 billion euro ($2.7 billion) asset sale programme, a newspaper reported. HEIDELBERGCEMENT The company aims to cut its debt to 6.5 billion euros ($8.7 billion) from about 7 billion, its Chief Executive Bernd Scheifele told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview. Related news CASINO The chairman of Brazil's biggest retailer, Grupo Pão de Açúcar SA, sold 1.5 billion reais ($736 million) in preferred shares on Friday, a source with knowledge of the transaction said, after the company posted the weakest sales growth since 2009. Casino is the controlling shareholder of Grupo Pao de Acucar. DAIMLER The European Commission is considering Daimler's request for a six-month grace period before imposing fines on the carmaker for not using a controversial new coolant in its cars, Stuttgarter Zeitung reported on Saturday, citing a spokesman for EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani. He said the Commission would make a decision "in a few weeks". Separately, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Daimler will extend Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche's contract by five years, two years more than expected. SAP The business software maker's Chairman Hasso Plattner said SAP's independence was secured for the medium term as the company was "clearly out of the speculative zone" it was in a few years ago, according to Handelsblatt newspaper. Related news DEUTSCHE BANK U.S. electricity regulators are in settlement talks with Deutsche Bank over allegations the bank manipulated the California electricity market, staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a filing Friday. Separately, Moneygram Payment Systems Inc has filed a suit against Deutsche Bank in New York, demanding at least $34 million in damages related to investments in residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations. Deutsche Bank said Moneygram's claim had already been dismissed by a court in Minnesota, adding it saw the claim as unfounded. SANTANDER Spain's Santander has received Chinese regulatory approval to operate as an independent car financing company, one of the first foreign banks to get a car finance licence in the world's largest auto market. FIAT Fiat and its U.S. unit Chrysler are set to sign a new agreement with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co to produce the Jeep vehicle for the Chinese market, Il Corriere della Sera said on Sunday. ALITALIA, AIR FRANCE There are no talks under way at the moment about changing the ownership structure at Alitalia, shareholder Maurizio Traglio told La Stampa on Sunday. AREVA French nuclear company Areva has agreed to pay Niger 35 million euros ($46.71 million) in compensation for delays to its Imouraren uranium mining project in the north of the desert country, a presidency official said on Sunday. ILIAD France's newest mobile operator Iliad has fallen behind schedule in building its mobile network, having installed 1,779 antennas by the end of 2012, short of its target of 2,500 antennas, according to Les Echos newspaper. FRANCE TELECOM France Telecom wants to expand its presence in fast-growing African mobile markets by entering Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Mauritania and signing management contracts with operators in Libya and Algeria.