UPDATE 1-European Factors to Watch-Shares to rise as Fed keeps stimulus

Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:23am EDT

LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - European equity index futures rose on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve surprised investors by sticking fully to its programme of economic stimulus, and financial spreadbetters forecast Germany's DAX would hit fresh record highs.

The Euro STOXX 50 futures contract rose 1.5 percent by 0620 GMT. Germany's DAX futures contract rose 1.3 percent while France's CAC-40 futures contract also advanced by 1.3 percent.

The main DAX cash equity index hit a record high of 8,645.90 points earlier this week, and traders forecast the German stock market rising to fresh peaks on Thursday.

The Fed said after European markets closed on Wednesday that it would keep buying $85 billion in bonds per month, defying expectations it would start to scale back that programme by at least $5-10 billion.

The U.S. central bank said it wanted to wait for more evidence of solid economic growth before it started to scale back the programme, and the Fed also cut its U.S economic growth forecasts.

The Fed's decision to keep the programme - known as "quantitative easing" (QE) - unchanged drove U.S stock markets to record highs.

German and Italian bond futures jumped on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve surprised markets by sticking with its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.

While many traders still expect the Fed to start to scale back its bond-buying programme soon, some said that any such move could be pushed back further if Janet Yellen is chosen replace Ben Bernanke at the head of the bank.

"Some bulls would argue that with the issue of tapering now looking to be in the hands of uber dove Janet Yellen, any form of tightening is off the table for the foreseeable future," Capital Spreads dealer Jonathan Sudaria wrote in a note.

Terry Torrison, managing director of Monaco-based McLaren Securities, said that while he had some concerns over the fact that the Fed's decision raised some questions over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery, he would follow the momentum of rising stock markets for now.

"We will continue higher but it seems to me that there's a warning there from the Fed that they're putting all this cash into the market but they're not sure it's fully working," said Torrison.

"However, you've got to stick with the momentum. For equities, the weight of money is still there waiting to come in," he added.

MARKET SNAPSHOT: > GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares jump, yields and dollar fall as Fed stays the course > US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 end at record highs as Fed leaves stimulus intact > Nikkei hits 8-wk high as Fed's policy surprise spurs commodity stocks > TREASURIES-Yields drop as Fed surprises by maintaining purchases > FOREX-Dollar wallows near 7-mth low after Fed's surprise nod to doves > PRECIOUS-Gold near one-week high as Fed keeps stimulus > METALS-LME copper hits 3-week high as Fed sticks to stimulus > Brent rises near $111 after Fed keeps stimulus

COMPANY NEWS:

VIVENDI :

A U.S. court has handed down a preliminary decision to halt the closing of Vivendi's $8.2 billion deal to sell most of its stake in Activision Blizzard Inc back to the U.S. company, the games publisher said.

DEXIA :

FinEx Capital, part of the investment management firm FinEx Group, said it had made an offer to buy all of Dexia Asset Management, part of the Franco-Belgian bank.

SAP :

SAP's rival Oracle gave a cautious outlook for new software and subscription revenue after posting quarterly results, citing lacklustre enterprise IT spending in the United States and Europe.

EADS :

Deutsche Lufthansa signalled its second major aircraft order in six months, saying its supervisory board had backed a long-haul fleet plan that industry watchers expect to benefit Airbus and Boeing. The airline said it would hold a news conference to outline the plans at 0900 GMT.

SULZER :

Swiss machinery manufacturer Sulzer has launched the sale of its Metco unit which it hopes could fetch about 800 million Swiss francs ($864.44 million), two people familiar with the process said.

AGEAS :

Belgian insurance group Ageas said late on Wednesday that it would principally use cash to invest in acquisitions or to return to shareholders, with returns to debt holders no longer a priority.

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