Europe Factors to Watch-Stocks set to extend rally ahead of U.S. jobs data
PARIS, Aug 2 (Reuters) - European stocks are set to rise at the open on Friday, adding to the previous session's sharp rally as investors bet U.S. jobs figures will add to recent data signalling an improvement in economic activity. At 0625 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.4-0.6 percent. The insurance sector will be in the spotlight after Allianz, Europe's biggest insurance group, posted a net profit which rose by a forecast-beating 27 percent in the second quarter and confirmed its outlook, while France's AXA posted better-than-expected adjusted earnings. So far in the earnings season, about 55 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies have met or beaten analyst forecasts. A particularly strong batch of results came from France and Germany, where respectively 77 percent and 79 percent of blue-chips have met or beaten forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data. Data due at 1230 GMT on Friday is expected to show U.S. payrolls outside the farming sector increased by 184,000 positions in July, according to economists polled by Reuters, marking a slight downshift from June but keeping the recent positive trend intact. "Although a pick up in the economic data would suggest a higher probability of the Fed tapering in September, it looks as though traders and markets have come to terms with it at last, and are now beyond the point where economic stimulus is needed, and can instead revert back to normality where economic strength is a good thing," Capital Spreads trader Jonathan Sudaria wrote in a note. European shares rallied on Thursday, with the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index hitting a two-month high following a batch of forecast-beating corporate results and upbeat manufacturing data from around the world. The Euro STOXX 50, which has surged 13 percent since late June, will run into strong resistance at around 2,850 points, representing a year high hit in May. The index is less than 2 percent from the level. "That's going to be a serious test, and there's a risk of a double top," Aurel BGC analyst Gerard Sagnier said. "If the index manages to pierce above the 2013 high, then the target will be the 2011 highs." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0624 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,706.87 1.25 % 21.14 NIKKEI 14,466.16 3.29 % 460.39 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 519.83 0.12 % 0.61 EUR/USD 1.3213 0.05 % 0.0007 USD/JPY 99.59 0.06 % 0.0600 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.725 -- 0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 1.693 -- 0.02 SPOT GOLD $1,286.41 -1.64 % -$21.43 US CRUDE $108.43 0.5 % 0.54 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares buoyed by data, accommodative policy > US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 end at highs after data, stimulus in place > Nikkei hits 1-wk high on Wall St, dovish central banks > FOREX-Dollar supported by upbeat U.S. data, jobs in focus > PRECIOUS-Gold heads for biggest weekly loss in a month > METALS-Copper eyes weekly gain after factories pick up > Brent tops $110 first time since April on robust economic data COMPANY NEWS: ALLIANZ Allianz's net profit rose by a forecast-beating 27 percent to 1.6 billion euros ($2.12 billion) in the second quarter, helped by strong performance in property and casualty insurance and asset management. AXA Europe's No. 2 insurer said on Friday its first-half net income edged 1 percent lower on a like-for-like basis, as a 228 million euro ($302 million) accounting loss on interest rate hedging instruments offset operational gains. CREDIT SUISSE Credit Suisse Group CSGN.VX is selling its private equity business to Grosvenor Capital Management LP as the bank adapts to stricter rules for managing capital and risk. TELECOM ITALIA Italy's biggest phone group cut on Friday its guidance on 2013 core profits citing the difficult economic situation, tough competition and adverse regulation. LUFTHANSA The airline posted a lower-than-expected operating profit of 431 million euros ($570.36 million) in the second quarter, yet confirmed its targets for the year. IAG International Airlines Group swung to a second quarter profit as its Spanish carrier Iberia started to show signs of recovery, adding to the resilient performance of British Airways. ACTELION Europe's largest biotech company Actelion ATLN.VX said it will acquire Ceptaris, a privately held U.S.-based specialty pharmaceutical company developing a topical drug, Valchlor, to treat a form of cancer. VOLKSWAGEN DAIMLER BMW BMW Group July U.S. sales rose 10.5 percent, Mercedes-Benz USA sales jumped 22.5 percent, Audi U.S. sales rose 11.6 percent, while Volkswagen of America's July sales fell 3.3 percent. Porsche U.S. July sales rose 36.3 percent. MEDIASET Shares of the broadcaster may be volatile after Italy's highest court ruled that its controlling shareholder, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was guilty of the fraudulently purchase of broadcasting rights. AGEAS Belgian insurer Ageas will buy back 200 million euros ($264.67 million) worth of shares starting on Aug 12, it said in a statement released minutes before it announces its first-half results.
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