Europe Factors to Watch-Stocks set to fall on euro zone GDP data

Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:30am EST

PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - European stock index futures pointed to a lower
open on Thursday as a cautious tone from companies and data showing
bigger-than-expected contractions in German and French economies rattle
investors.
   At 0722 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX 
and for France's CAC were down 0.1-0.2 percent.
    Data released on Thursday morning showed Germany's economy shrank by 0.6
percent in the final quarter of 2012, its deepest contraction since the height
of the global financial crisis in 2009 as exports slowed at the end of the year.
 
    Preliminary figures from France's INSEE national statistics office showed on
Thursday the French economy contracted 0.3 percent in the final three months of
2012, edging closer to recession. 
    Adding to worries about France, Prime Minster Jean-Marc Ayrault late on
Wednesday said the country is likely to miss this year's public deficit goal
because of weak growth, acknowledging for the first time that a cornerstone of
his government's fiscal policy was crumbling. 
    "The newsflow is becoming quite negative, both on the macro and micro sides,
while stock indexes are just below recent highs. It's difficult to find a reason
to buy at the moment, and there will probably be better entry points in the
coming weeks," a Paris-based trader said. 
    Heavyweight miners will be in focus on Thursday after Rio Tinto 
reported a $3 billion loss, its first ever full-year loss, and said it will cut
costs, spend capital more carefully and focus on shareholder value.
 
    Food giant Nestle also stuck a cautious tone, saying it expects
2013 to be as challenging as 2012 as it reported a pick-up in sales growth in
the last three months of 2012 following a disappointing third quarter.
 
    About 44 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have reported
results so far in the earnings season, of which only 48 percent have met or
beaten forecasts, a stark contrast with Wall Street where 72 percent of S&P 500
 companies have reported results, of which 77 percent have met or beaten
consensus, according to Thomson Reuters data.
    
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 MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0723 GMT                            
                                         LAST  PCT CHG  NET CHG
 S&P 500                             1,520.33   0.06 %      0.9
 NIKKEI                             11,307.28    0.5 %    55.87
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                       557.16   0.37 %     2.08
 EUR/USD                               1.3392  -0.45 %  -0.0061
 USD/JPY                                93.50   0.14 %   0.1300
 10-YR US TSY YLD                       2.052       --     0.02
 10-YR BUND YLD                         1.675       --     0.00
 SPOT GOLD                          $1,643.35   0.06 %    $0.99
 US CRUDE                              $96.98  -0.03 %    -0.03
 
  > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares gain on improving mood, G20 eyed 
  > US STOCKS-Wall St pauses after rally to 5-yr high 
  > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes up 0.5 pct 
  > TREASURIES-Bonds under pressure, 10-year yield at 10-month high 
  > Yen slips vs euro, dollar as BOJ outcome awaited 
  > PRECIOUS-Gold recoups losses, but firm equities weigh 
  > METALS-Copper inches up; eyes G20 in holiday-thinned trade 
  > Brent holds near $118 after euro zone data; G20 meet in focus 
    
    COMPANY NEWS:
    
    RIO TINTO 
    Rio Tinto's new chief flagged he would slash costs, spend capital more
carefully and focus on shareholder value after the world's no.3 miner reported a
$3 billion loss, its first ever full-year loss. 
    
    BNP PARIBAS 
    The bank said it would kick off a three-year plan to save 2 billion euros
($2.69 billion) in annual costs and ramp up growth in Asia after its
fourth-quarter profits were hit by Europe's weak economy. 
    
    NESTLE 
    The world's biggest food company said it saw organic sales growth of 5.9
percent in 2012 and confirmed its outlook for the year. For more, click on
 
    
    RENAULT 
    The French carmaker pledged to increase full-year sales and stay in the
black after profit fell 15 percent in 2012, weighed down by shrinking European
auto demand. 
    
    PERNOD RICARD  
    The French spirits giant posted first-half earnings which reflected a sharp
slowdown in sales in France and Spain in the second quarter, more moderate
demand in Asia but solid growth in the United States, while it kept its
full-year outlook of slower profit growth. 
    
    PUBLICIS 
    Advertising agency finished 2012 on a high note as sales got a big bump from
emerging markets and on-line marketing, yet it warned that the year ahead would
be difficult, especially in Europe. 
    
    LEGRAND  
    The company said on Thursday net profit and sales rose in 2012 as
acquisitions and growth in emerging markets helped offset a tough economy.
 
    
    EDF 
    The French utility said 2012 net profit rose 5.3 percent to 3.3 billion
euros ($4.43 billion) and proposed to pay a 1.25 euro dividend per share.
 
    
    AIR LIQUIDE 
    The company said on Thursday it was confident in its ability to deliver net
profit growth this year, after it posted results slightly above market
expectations in 2012 thanks to cost cuts and strong activity in emerging
markets. 

    GJENSIDIGE 
    The Norwegian insurer reported fourth-quarter pretax profit rose 70 percent
from a year earlier, more than all estimates in a Reuters poll, as premiums
earned rose and claims fell, while the return on financial assets increased. It
proposed increasing its dividend of 6.85 crowns per share from 4.55 a year ago,
also above forecasts. 
    
    ABB 
    Switzerland's ABB said it would focus on costs to offset near-term
uncertainty about growth in Europe and the U.S. as it posted a
narrower-than-expected fall in fourth-quarter profit. For more, click on
 
    
    ZURICH INSURANCE 
    Zurich Insurance reported a 3 percent rise in 2012 profit on Thursday, as
growing profits from its Latin America and Malaysia businesses helped offset
large loss reserves on its German business taken in the last two quarters.
 
    
    ACTELION 
    Europe's largest biotech company Actelion said it would hike its
dividend by 25 percent as investors wait for a U.S. regulatory decision on its
new heart and lung drug, Opsumit, which it hopes will cut its dependency on
current mainstay Tracleer. For more, click on