Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to halt rally ahead of Fed
PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - European stocks are set to drift lower on Tuesday as investors cash in a portion of recent gains ahead of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting expected to begin scaling back stimulus. At 0620 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were down 0.2-0.3 percent. Investors were reluctant to take fresh bets ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting next week, at which the central bank is set to trim its quantitative easing programme. According to a recent Reuters poll of economists, the Fed is seen announcing that it will curb its monthly spending on asset purchases by $10 billion. "The selling pressure remains weak. We're not in a situation where people start to cut their positions, so all the pull-backs are buying opportunities," Aurel BGC analyst Gerard Sagnier said. The massive liquidity provided by central banks around the world has been a major factor behind the stock market rally started in mid-2012, with the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index up 41 percent since then. Despite the expected cut in the Fed's stimulus measures, investors remain sanguine about the outlook for European stocks as recent macro data signalled a pick-up in economic growth for the region. Demand for "put options" on the Euro STOXX 50 used by fund managers to protect their portfolios against potential pull-backs has been fading ahead of the September derivative contracts expire on Friday. Shares in carmakers will be in the spotlight after data showed European car sales fell 4.9 percent last month. Peugeot led the fall, with an 18 percent drop in registrations that eroded its market share to 11 percent for the first eight months, down almost a percentage point year-on-year. European stocks surged on Monday, with Germany's DAX hitting a record high and the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index reaching a 2-1/2 year high, after news that former treasury secretary and White House adviser Lawrence Summers had pulled out of the race to lead the Fed. Markets took the view that the Fed would take a more gradual approach to tightening its policy since Summers is seen as less supportive of the bank's equity-friendly monetary stimulus programme than the other main candidate, Janet Yellen. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0619 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,697.60 0.57 % 9.61 NIKKEI 14,311.67 -0.65 % -93 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 539.34 -0.36 % -1.96 EUR/USD 1.3344 0.08 % 0.0011 USD/JPY 99.12 0.07 % 0.0700 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.850 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.945 -- 0.02 SPOT GOLD $1,312.76 -0.05 % -$0.63 US CRUDE $105.77 -0.77 % -0.82 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares ease ahead of Fed meeting > US STOCKS-Wall Street up on Summers' withdrawal; Obama curbs gains > Nikkei edges up, investors cautious as focus turns to Fed outcome > FOREX-Dollar near 4-week low after Summers drops out of Fed race > PRECIOUS-Gold near five-week low, stimulus outlook in focus > METALS-LME copper holds near 5-week low, Fed meeting in focus > Brent slips below $110 as Syria tension eases, Fed eyed COMPANY NEWS: CAR STOCKS, PEUGEOT Shares in carmakers will be in the spotlight after data showed European car sales fell 4.9 percent last month. Peugeot led the fall, with an 18 percent drop in registrations that eroded its market share to 11 percent for the first eight months, down almost a percentage point year-on-year. DEBENHAMS The group will meet forecasts for 2012-13 profit as sales growth picked-up in its fourth quarter, Britain's No. 2 department store group said on Tuesday. TELEFONICA, TELECOM ITALIA Telecom Italia has delayed a crucial board meeting on strategic options to Oct. 3. Telefonica is the biggest single shareholder and faces a dilemma over how to respond to plans from other investors to leave the Italian firm. NOKIA Nokia has delayed the launch of a large-screen "phablet" device, originally planned for late September, following a deal to sell its handset business and license patents to Microsoft, a source said on late on Monday. CONTINENTAL AG German car parts supplier Schaeffler seeks to sell 4 percent of Continental AG to cut debt, taking advantage of a 20-year high in Continental's share price. SANOFI The drugmaker Sanofi said it won approval from European authorities for a second multiple sclerosis treatment, paving the way to start selling both drugs in the region soon. DEUTSCHE POST German postal and courier business Deutsche Post is seeking to refinance its existing 2 billion euro ($2.67 billion) credit facility, which is due to mature in December 2015, banking sources said. EADS, DASSAULT AVIATION Hedge fund TCI has asked EADS to transfer its 4 billion euro stake in Dassault Aviation directly to shareholders as part of its campaign to force the group to sell the asset, Financial Times reported, citing a letter sent by TCI to EADS Chief Executive Tom Enders. SALZGITTER The company said it struck a deal with workers on its planned savings programme, under which 1,500 of the group's 25,000 jobs will be cut, Salzgitter said late on Monday. SCOR The French reinsurer said its preliminary cost estimate for a series of hailstorms in Germany was for approximately 50 million euros before tax and after retrocession and reinstatements. FORTUM State-controlled Finnish utility Fortum has launched a sale of its power grid in Finland, which could fetch around 1.5-2.0 billion euros ($2.0-$2.7 billion), four people familiar with the matter said.
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