Europe Factors to Watch-Futures mixed; Italy in focus
PARIS, March 13 (Reuters) - European stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Wednesday, with investors' focus on Italy's first long-term debt auction since its credit downgrade. At 0733 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were down 0.1 percent, for Germany's DAX up 0.08 percent and for France's CAC down 0.07 percent. All eyes will be on the Italian market as the country is set to sell up to 7.25 billion euros in debt less than a week after Fitch downgraded Italy's credit rating, which has driven the country's borrowing costs higher. Concerns about the pace of economic reforms in the debt-stricken country following last month's inconclusive elections have weighed on Italian shares, with Milan's FTSE MIB down 11 percent from a peak hit in late January, in sharp contrast with Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 which have hit multi-year highs in the past few days. "Italy is still a serious risk, and if bond yields go up again, it could derail the stock rally in Europe. As long as we don't have a clear idea of where the country is heading, it's hard to be bullish on equities," a Paris-based equity and exchange-traded fund trader said. On the earnings front, Zara owner Inditex will be in the spotlight after posting a 22 percent jump in 2012 profits, even as austerity-hit shoppers in Europe tightened belts. European shares ended mostly unchanged on Tuesday, taking their cues from a mixed showing on Wall Street and pausing for breath before what technical analysts say could be a push to fresh multi-year highs. "The consolidation phases we've recently seen have been very shallow. The risk for investors now is to miss the rally, and be forced to buy when there's a pull-back, which should fuel the rise," Aurel BGC chartist Gerard Sagnier said. "We can't exclude a further 10 percent gain in the next two months." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0733 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,552.48 -0.24 % -3.74 NIKKEI 12,239.66 -0.61 % -75.15 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 548.57 -0.73 % -4.03 EUR/USD 1.304 0.06 % 0.0008 USD/JPY 95.64 -0.44 % -0.4200 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.016 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 1.490 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,592.64 0.03 % $0.55 US CRUDE $92.78 0.26 % 0.24 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares ease, sterling remains vulnerable > US STOCKS-S&P 500 dips after 7-day rally; Dow edges up to record high > Nikkei slips for second day on profit-taking > TREASURIES-Bonds gain in Asia, retail sales in focus > FOREX-Yen takes a breather from fall, sterling wallows > Gold holds near two-week high on euro zone concerns > Shanghai copper hits 1-1/2-week high on demand upturn > Brent steady above $109 on stable demand outlook, stockpile fall COMPANY NEWS: INDITEX Zara owner Inditex posted a 22 percent rise in 2012 profit to 2.4 billion euros ($3.13 billion) on Wednesday, shrugging off belt-tightening in home market Spain by tapping fashion-hungry consumers in markets like Asia. ADECCO Top staffing company Adecco said revenues were down 5 percent for the first two months of the year as it reported fourth quarter profits that fell shy of analyst expectations. For related news click on PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN PSA Peugeot Citroen is losing two senior members of Chief Executive Philippe Varin's top team, presenting a further challenge to the carmaker in its efforts to reverse mounting losses. DEUTSCHE TELEKOM The U.S. FCC and DoJ on Tuesday approved unit T-Mobile USA's merger with MetroPCS. The latter also fought back against shareholder criticism of its proposed merger ahead of a shareholder vote on April 12. G4S The security group posted a 6 percent rise in annual profit as emerging markets growth helped soften the blow of an Olympics staffing blunder that rocked the British firm in 2012. BHP BILLITON The U.S. government is investigating the top global miner for possible corrupt practices, the company confirmed, after media reports said it was being probed for its sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. COMMERZBANK Germany's second largest lender invited banks to pitch for an accelerated capital increase of up to 10 percent of new shares, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. Separately, Handelsblatt reported Commerzbank's supervisory board will on Wednesday discuss the matter of a capital increase - which it said could have a volume of between 700 million euros ($911.5 million) and almost 3 billion euros. TECHNIP The oil services group said on Wednesday it had acquired Ingenium, a Norwegian offshore engineering contractor. No financial details were given. EADS European aerospace group EADS on Tuesday said it had named Peugeot research and development chief Guillaume Faury to head its Eurocopter division, replacing Lutz Bertling, who is resigning. STMICROELECTRONICS STMicroelectronics and Ericsson have failed to find a buyer for their loss making wireless electronic chip joint venture and will now consider whether to close the business down, news service Bloomberg said on its website. LOTTOMATICA The gaming company forecast on Tuesday a rise in 2013 core profits and revenues, underpinned by its video lottery business in Canada, and proposed a 2012 dividend of 0.73 euros per share, against 0.71 euros paid on its 2011 results. INTESA SANPAOLO The bank said it could cut its presence in Hungary after losses there pushed it into the red in the last quarter, calling the eastern European country a "nightmare" for the banking industry. E.ON The company aims to close the sale of its stake in uranium enrichment firm Urenco either this year or next, Germany's top utility said at its annual press conference on Wednesday.
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