European Factors to Watch-Euro zone GDP seen supporting stock gains
LONDON Aug 14 (Reuters) - European stocks are seen edging higher on Wednesday as investors await confirmation the euro zone has edged out of recession, opening the door for a long-awaited pick up in domestic demand and corporate earnings.
The French economy grew 0.5 percent in the second quarter, more than twice as fast as expected, potentially paving the way for an upside surprise from the 0900 GMT release of gross domestic product numbers for the whole of the euro zone. Even without a beat, though, consensus is that the bloc's economy has ended nearly two years of recession.
At 0619 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.1 to 0.3 percent higher, up more than the early financial bookmakers' calls made before the French data.
"The French GDP just came in better than expected, markets all look to be opening higher and everyone seems fairly bullish," said Neil Marsh, strategist at Newedge.
"I don't think it's going to show excessive growth, hopefully it will indicate that euro zone is stabilising a little ... There seems to be a bit more European activity (in equities) and if this is a good number I think we can expect markets to continue to grind higher."
That should help the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 extend the previous day's rally to 2-1/2 month highs towards closing the gap of around 20 points to the five-year peaks set in May.
Citi's European economic surprise indicator - keenly watched by investors as a barometer for future equity market performance - turned positive last month . The GDP data should also bode well for companies that make their money in the euro zone and have lagged globally-focused rivals in recent years.
Indeed, of the STOXX Europe 600 companies that have already reported second quarter earnings, 50 percent have come in above expectations - the highest beat rate since the first quarter of 2012, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
Underscoring improved sentiment on equities, there are signs of a pick up in the initial public offering (IPO) market. Italy's M&G Chemicals is looking to raise about $500 million through a public floatation in Hong Kong in October , while British estate agent Foxtons will file for an IPO as soon as Aug. 27 and could raise as much as 400 million pounds ($618.46 million) , according to media reports.
For the FTSE, meanwhile, the focus will be on jobs data - of increased importance now that the Bank of England has linked the likelihood of future interest rate hikes to a fall in unemployment - and BoE minutes.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- > GLOBAL MARKETS-Dollar, Asian shares lower on Fed QE expectations > US STOCKS-Wall St rises on economic data, Apple rallies > Nikkei flat despite positive overseas data; futures selling weighs > TREASURIES-U.S. bond yields near 2-year high on economic hopes > FOREX-Dollar in firm after retail sales fuel stimulus tapering talk > PRECIOUS-Gold steadies after drop as stimulus concerns persist > METALS-Copper close to 9-week high on China demand outlook > Brent below $110 on US stimulus outlook, but supply worries support
* THYSSENKRUPP - The indebted German group saw its finances weaken in the latest quarter as it struggled to find a buyer for the loss-making Steel Americas division. While net debt eased, its equity capital and liquidity shrank further, and its managers said they would approach banks to avoid losing credit lines worth 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) because of the group's deteriorating finances.
* RWE - Germany's No.2 utility joined peers in announcing it will take offline 3,100 megawatts (MW) of power plant capacity, blaming a massive expansion of renewable energy that has pushed many gas and coal-fired plants into losses. RWE also said recurrent net income rose by 19 percent to 1.99 billion euros in the first half of the year, against analyst consensus of 2.09 billion euros.
* BP - The oil major is suing the U.S. government for barring the British oil giant from obtaining new federal contracts after the company pleaded guilty to charges related to the 2010 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
* KABEL DEUTSCHLAND - The company, which is being bought by Vodafone, reported worse-than-expected core profit for quarter ending June 30 as extra investments in infrastructure and marketing weighed.
* SALZGITTER - The German steelmaker said it would cut more than 1,500 jobs as part of a restructuring programme that it hopes will help it return to profit.
* GAGFAH - The German real estate company said it sees growth in funds from operations (FFO) per share accelerating to at least 25 percent next year from a targeted 5-10 percent this year.