Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to dip ahead of Fed
PARIS, July 31 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to open slightly lower on Wednesday as investors move to the sidelines ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy announcement, expected to shed light on the outlook for its stimulus measures. At 0628 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were down 0.25 percent, for UK's FTSE 100 down 0.02 percent, for Germany's DAX down 0.42 percent and for France's CAC down 0.3 percent. The Fed is expected to keep buying bonds at an $85 billion monthly pace, although the central bank could hint at the possibility of trimming back purchases later in the year. "People still have in mind the first salvo on 'tapering' from the Fed back in May so they don't want to be caught off guard this time again. The market has rallied quite a bit in the last few weeks, so it's tempting to just cash out to avoid any bad surprises from the Fed," a Paris-based trader said. "On the earnings side, results have been surprisingly good, and hopefully, this is the start of the turnaround we've been waiting for years. There are a lot of opportunities for stock pickers in virtually all sectors, except maybe in basic resources." A number of sectors could find support in a string of forecast-beating results on Wednesday from bellwethers such as BNP Paribas, EADS , Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Volkswagen and Heidelbergcement. Nearly half-way into Europe's earnings season, 52 percent of STOXX Europe 600 index that have reported results so far have met or beaten profit forecasts, and 58 percent have met or beaten revenue forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine. The heavyweight financials sector has been one of the best sectors so far, with 65 percent of firms posting in-line or better-than-expected earnings, according to StarMine. The earnings momentum - analyst upgrades minus downgrades as a percentage of the total - has been recovering in Europe in the past few months, with the momentum for German companies about to turn positive for the first time in more than a year, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0627 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,685.96 0.04 % 0.63 NIKKEI 13,668.32 -1.45 % -201.5 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 516.63 -0.75 % -3.88 EUR/USD 1.3245 -0.13 % -0.0017 USD/JPY 97.87 -0.16 % -0.1600 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.599 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.676 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,333.05 0.48 % $6.36 US CRUDE $103.11 0.03 % 0.03 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Dollar steady, China stocks up on growth pledge > US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq end up as tech gains; potash shares sink > Nikkei drops as market on edge with earnings in play, Fed outcome eyed > FOREX-Dollar inches up as Fed, US GDP loom; Aussie slips > PRECIOUS-Gold adds to strong monthly gains, stimulus outlook eyed > METALS-London copper up on month end buys; Fed caution caps gains > Brent holds near $107, on track for best month since Aug COMPANY NEWS: ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV The world's largest beer maker reported a greater-than-expected increase in second-quarter earnings on Thursday despite selling less beer. EADS Europe's EADS confirmed plans to reorganize into three divisions and adopt the name of its planemaker unit Airbus in a bid to unite its businesses and boost shareholder returns, and posted forecast-beating results. PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN Struggling French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen raised its closely watched cash goal for 2013 as it posted first-half losses contained by cost-cutting. The carmaker won EU approval for a 7 billion euro state-backed debt rescue, keeping the French automaker afloat as it struggles to rein in losses. SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC The company is nearing a $5.07 billion deal to acquire British engineer Invensys and could announce it at its results on Wednesday, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said. The group kept its full-year goals despite a 5 percent decline in first-half profits, as organic revenues outside Western Europe returned to growth in the second quarter. VOLKSWAGEN Europe's largest automaker posted a surprise gain in second-quarter earnings, reaping the benefits of new cost-cutting technology and growing sales of luxury cars. HEIDELBERGCEMENT HeidelbergCement posted a better-than-expected second-quarter operating profit as it managed to increase prices in its main markets. BBVA Spain's second-biggest bank on Wednesday posted a 91 percent leap in first half net profit to 2.9 billion euros ($3.84 billion), slightly above analysts' forecasts. SIEMENS The supervisory board of Siemens will seal the fate of Chief Executive Peter Loescher on Wednesday when it votes for his early dismissal in one of Germany's most dramatic boardroom battles in years. ITALCEMENTI The cement maker reported on Tuesday a 10.6 percent drop in first-half core earnings, hit by lower sales, and the group said it expected operating results for the second half to be in line with last year. SANTANDER The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a former Banco Santander executive and a former Spanish judge with insider trading over a proposed takeover of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc on which the Spanish bank had given investment banking advice.