Europe Factors to Watch-Stocks set for steady open; Alcatel eyed
PARIS, Sept 26 (Reuters) - European stocks are set for a steady open on Thursday, with indexes seen remaining in tight ranges as a budget impasse in Washington and a looming battle over the U.S. debt ceiling rattle investors. At 0619 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.05-0.2 percent. German Bund futures fell 9 ticks at the open to 139.85. Before Oct. 1, the U.S. Congress needs to pass stop-gap funding for federal agencies, and by Oct. 17 it must raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid a debt default. Congress is currently struggling to pass the spending bill, while Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the government would not be able to borrow funds past Oct. 17 if no deal on the debt ceiling is reached, fuelling fears of a default. "It looks like history is repeating itself as continued political bickering over the raising of the debt ceiling is understandably making investors nervous in what is becoming a classic case of déjà vu," Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note. After a sharp rally started in late June, investors are turning cautious, with the Euro STOXX 50 put/call ratio jumping to a two-year high this week. The ratio - one of Europe's widely-used gauges of investor sentiment which measures the trading volume of put options versus call options on the Euro STOXX 50 - hit 2.9 this week, the highest level since a peak hit during the heat of the euro zone debt crisis in mid-2011, when euro zone stocks plummeted 25 percent. The tech sector will be in the spotlight on Thursday after sources told Reuters Nokia is discussing internally whether to approach French rival Alcatel-Lucent about a tie-up. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0610 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,692.77 -0.27 % -4.65 NIKKEI 14,799.12 1.22 % 178.59 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 541.75 -0.14 % -0.77 EUR/USD 1.352 -0.04 % -0.0005 USD/JPY 98.99 0.58 % 0.5700 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.646 -- 0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 1.830 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,330.81 -0.16 % -$2.18 US CRUDE $102.47 -0.19 % -0.19 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Japan shares bounce, caution rules elsewhere > US stocks slip for 5th day as budget impasse, Wal-Mart weigh > Nikkei bounces back on corporate tax cut hopes; Advantest sinks > FOREX-Dollar rises vs yen but U.S. budget impasse caps gain > PRECIOUS-Gold holds gains; focus on U.S. debt ceiling talks > METALS-London copper slips as U.S. fiscal worries drag > Brent slips towards $108 on hopes of progress in Iran nuclear dispute COMPANY NEWS: ALCATEL-LUCENT, NOKIA Nokia is discussing internally whether to approach its French rival Alcatel-Lucent about a tie-up, several people close to the matter said. VINCI Vinci is considering selling its parking concession business, Vinci Park, for which it could raise up to 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), according to Les Echos. DEUTSCHE BOERSE A lobby group including the London Stock Exchange, the European Fund and Asset Management Association, BlackRock, Fidelity Worldwide Investment and Allianz Global Investors has appealed to the European Union to push ahead with reforms that will force Deutsche Boerse to open up clearing services to third-party providers. TELEFONICA, TELECOM ITALIA Telecom Italia's Chairman, its independent directors and Italian politicians spoke out on Wednesday against suspected plans by top shareholder Telefonica to sell some of the company's most valued assets once it has won control. Separately, Telefonica said on Wednesday it would pay a dividend of 0.35 euros per share on Nov. 6. BANKIA, MAPFRE Spain's biggest state-rescued lender Bankia is placing a 12 percent stake in Spanish insurer Mapfre with institutional investors, broker UBS said on Wednesday. SANTANDER Spain's Santander is aiming for an extra 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in cost savings by 2016, on top of 500 million euros from synergies already announced, according to a presentation by Chief Executive Javier Marin. Separately, foreign investors are preparing bids for the property management units of several Spanish banks, including Santander, hoping to break decisively into a real estate market that has brought few bargain housing deals for funds even after five years of a price slump. LVMH Marc Jacobs may be on the verge of leaving Louis Vuitton when his contract ends next month, an industry source told Reuters. Names in the hat to replace him include that of Nicolas Ghesquiere, who left Balenciaga last year after having infused new life into the Kering fashion brand. OSRAM Regulatory filings show that Goldman Sachs controls 5.01 percent of the voting rights in Osram. SANOFI A new cholesterol-lowering drug from the French drugmaker has the potential to become a $3-billion-dollar-plus blockbuster, according to analysts awaiting imminent late-stage trial results. FIAT Chrysler Group LLC's second-largest shareholder, a union healthcare trust fund, has tapped Deutsche Bank for advice on how to exit its 41.5 percent stake in No. 3 U.S. automaker, according to two people familiar with the matter.