European Factors to Watch-Shares head for 11th month of gains
LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - European shares were set to rise on Tuesday and stay on track for an 11th month of gains, with expectations of a rate cut by the European Central Bank and the continuation of easy U.S. monetary policy boosting sentiment. The ECB is expected to lower the euro zone's main interest rate by 25 basis points at its meeting on Thursday, while the combination of soft demand and benign inflation should allow the U.S. Federal Reserve to continue on its ultra-easy monetary path when it meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Analysts said investors should be cautious in trading shares as pinning too much hope on the central banks could be risky. "Markets are expecting that the ECB will cut interest rates. That bears the risk for a disappointment, should the ECB decide to postpone such a step," said Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit in Munich. He said investors will keep a close eye on earnings as results from some major banks could support the market. UBS posted a better-than-expected first quarter profit on Tuesday as it saw a surge in trading income from its investment bank. Deutsche Bank unveiled forecast-beating results, while Lloyds reported a jump in first-quarter profits on the back of improved margins and lower costs. According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, half of the STOXX Europe 600 companies that have announced results so far have met or beaten analysts' forecasts. The index, which has seen results from 39 percent of its companies so far, lags the United States, where more than half of S&P 500 constituents have reported, with 74 percent meeting or beating predictions. At 0641 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, UK's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.3 to 0.7 percent higher. The market is also expected to track gains in Asia and the United States, with the S&P 500 index ending at an all-time high on Monday and MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbing 1.1 percent on Tuesday. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 0.5 percent higher on Monday at 1,202.89 points, the highest close in about four weeks. The index, up 1.2 percent this month, headed for its 11th straight month of gains to post the longest winning run since its launch. According to spreadbetters, Italy's FTSE MIB was seen opening 0.4 percent higher. It rose 2.2 percent on Monday after new Prime Minister Enrico Letta promised to push for a change to Europe's focus on austerity and pursue growth. The index is up more than 10 percent this month. The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index closed 1.3 percent higher at 2,717.38 points in the previous session. The latest rally has seen it surging by nearly 7 percent in seven sessions to a one-month high. "While this is positive on the face of it, the fact that the advance is largely based on hopes of action from the ECB suggests that many in the market will be looking to take profits on the confirmation of a rate cut - and short heavily in the absence of such a move," Bill McNamara, technical analyst at Charles Stanley, said. "In the meantime, a run up to the March peak at 2,744 suddenly looks possible, although it is not easy to see what would be the driver for a move beyond that level in the near term." Petra von Kerssenbrock, analyst at Commerzbank, said the index headed towards the resistance at 2,750, the annual highs. "This is the resistance of the consolidation it has been stuck in since the beginning of this year. This medium-term consolidation has a trend-confirming character to the upside. A breakout to the upside should pave the way towards the resistance area 3,050-3,080." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0647 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,593.61 0.72 % 11.37 NIKKEI 13,860.86 -0.17 % -23.27 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 551.07 0.81 % 4.41 EUR/USD 1.3082 -0.11 % -0.0015 USD/JPY 97.77 0.02 % 0.0200 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.668 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 1.207 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,463.86 -0.81 % -$11.93 US CRUDE $94.27 -0.24 % -0.23 * Central bank stimulus hopes underpin Asian shares * Nikkei eases, still heads for best April in 20 years * S&P 500 closes at record, led by energy, tech shares * Dollar subdued as low inflation alters Fed calculus * Brent holds under $104, heads for worst month since May * Copper slips, policy easing hopes stem fall * Gold slips as ETF holdings hit lowest since Sept 2009 * Bonds firm as Fed meeting, payrolls data in focus COMPANY NEWS UBS UBS posted a better-than-expected first quarter profit on Tuesday as it saw a surge in trading income from its investment bank and more fees from wealthy clients. UNILEVER Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever will pay as much as $5.4 billion to raise its stake in its Indian unit, Hindustan Unilever, to up to 75 percent in a bet on fast-growing spending power in Asia's third-largest economy. BP BP profits outperformed expectations by almost $1 billion in the first quarter of 2013 thanks in part to the high margin nature of new production that came on stream at the end of 2012 and a strong performance from its trading division. SWATCH The world's biggest watchmaker Swatch Group still sees double-digit sales growth in China this year for its mid and entry price brands, its chairwoman said. DEUTSCHE BANK Germany's largest lender said late Monday it will beef up its balance sheet with a 2.8 billion euro ($3.67 billion) capital increase as it unveiled forecast-beating quarterly results thanks to aggressive cost cuts. Separately, the chairman of Monte dei Paschi di Siena said on Monday a lawsuit by the Italian bank against Nomura and Deutsche Bank over loss-making derivatives deals is well founded. LLOYDS BANKING GROUP State-backed Lloyds reported a jump in first-quarter profits on the back of improved margins and lower costs on Tuesday, and raised the amount it expects to save from shrinking the bank. DEUTSCHE BOERSE Deutsche Boerse late Monday reported a greater-than-expected 26 percent drop in operating profit for the first quarter as low interest rates and reduced equity market volatility dented the exchange operator's revenue. ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV The world's largest brewer cut its outlook for full-year growth in its second-biggest market, Brazil, on Tuesday after first-quarter earnings fell short of expectations. DEUTSCHE TELEKOM The European Commission has decided against setting specific fees for telecoms firms seeking access to traditional copper networks as it would mean consumers paying more in 10 EU countries, according to a draft EU document. FRESENIUS SE The diversified healthcare group posted first-quarter adjusted net income slightly below market expectations on healthcare budget cuts in the United States. FRESENIUS MEDICAL CARE First-quarter net income at Fresenius Medical Care, the world's largest dialysis provider, dropped to a worse-than-expected $225 million, hurt by austerity measures in the United States, its most important market. TELEFONICA, BT GROUP Telefonica and BT are making progress on several agreements to share networks and services in the British market in a move to gain ground over landline and wireless competitors, Expansion reported on Tuesday. ABERTIS Infrastructure company Abertis reports results for the first quarter before the market opens on Tuesday.