European Factors to Watch-Shares to edge lower, focus on ECB, U.S. data
LONDON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - European stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open on Thursday, with investors seen avoiding strong bets before a European Central Bank rate decision and major data releases that could set the market's near-term direction. The ECB is likely to leave interest rates at a record low at 1245 GMT, though there is an outside chance of cut after surprisingly weak euro zone inflation data. The Bank of England also holds a policy meeting later in the day. "There is a lot for investors to digest today and tomorrow, with some potentially choosing to take profit," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said. "For now, whilst markets are making progress, investors are questioning how much of the good economic and corporate news is already priced in." The U.S. July-September GDP data, due at 1330 GMT, and Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for October will be scrutinised for insight into the economic effects of last month's government shutdown and the timing of the Federal Reserve's eventual move to trim its stimulus. "With two central banks, a U.S. GDP and jobs report all due out, we were always bound to see some nervous trading," IG Markets said in a note. At 0735 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC were down 0.1 to 0.2 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.4 percent higher at 1,296.58 points on Wednesday after setting a new five-year of 1,300.18 points. The index has climbed more than 14 percent so far this year. Thursday is a busy day for earnings, with nearly 200 European companies announcing results. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, reported higher profit than expected in the third quarter and declared it was through the bottom of the cycle. French technology consultancy Capgemini kept its full-year sales and profitability goals, while German auto parts and tyre maker Continental AG raised its full-year profit margin target after adjusted operating earnings jumped almost a fifth. According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, 64 percent of firms on the STOXX Europe 600 have reported results so far, of which 49 percent have met or beaten earning expectations and only 34 percent firms have reported above forecast revenues. That contrasts with 58 percent beating or meeting earnings numbers in the previous quarter and 62 percent reporting above forecast profit numbers in the same quarter last year. On the revenue front, 57 percent and 55 percent of companies respectively reported forecast-beating numbers in the second quarter of 2013 and the third quarter of 2012. ---------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------- > Asia stocks subdued, euro rebounds to 1-week high ahead of ECB > Dow, S&P 500 end higher on Microsoft, Europe data > Nikkei pauses after earnings flurry, small cap stocks rise > TREASURIES-Prices mixed as investors look to future Fed clues > Euro fights back as ECB looms; Aussie tumbles on jobs data > Gold steady on Fed stimulus hopes, fund inflow > Copper near four-week lows; payrolls, China meet eyed > Brent slips to 4-month low below $105 ahead of ECB, US data COMPANY NEWS COMMERZBANK The bank posted a 15 percent rise in quarterly net profit as it set aside less cash to cover ailing loans held in its restructuring division, saying the strategic overhaul of the group was on track. ARCELORMITTAL The world's largest steelmaker reported higher profit than expected in the third quarter, boosted by increasing iron ore shipments and cost savings, and declared it was through the bottom of the cycle. SOCIETE GENERALE, CREDIT AGRICOLE French banks Societe Generale and Credit Agricole agreed to an asset swap on Thursday in a bid to narrow their business focus as they prepare to woo investors in a tough economic environment. SIEMENS Germany's Siemens expects earnings growth to accelerate in its current financial year as new Chief Executive Joe Kaeser steps up efforts to catch more profitable rivals and cost cuts start to bear fruit. SWISS RE The world's second largest reinsurer, said on Thursday it was open to paying a special dividend as net profit fell less than expected. For more, click on EDF The French state-controlled utility said its nine-month sales rose 6.9 percent, partly because of government-approved power price increases, and confirmed its full-year growth targets. NATIXIS France's fourth-biggest listed investment bank reported a 38 percent rise in third-quarter profit as cost savings and robust capital-markets trade offset economic weakness. BNP PARIBAS BNP Paribas confirmed it had placed an unbinding offer to buy Bank BGZ, the Polish subsidiary of Dutch lender Rabobank, BNP said on Thursday. REPSOL Spanish oil major Repsol reported a 22 percent fall in third-quarter adjusted net profit from a year ago, hit by production outages in Libya and a steep decline in refining margins. CAPGEMINI French technology consultancy Capgemini kept its full-year sales and profitability goals on Thursday as revenue returned to positive growth in the third-quarter amid improving demand in Europe, notably in its core French market. CONTINENTAL AG German auto parts and tyre maker Continental AG raised its full-year profit margin target after adjusted operating earnings jumped almost a fifth. NESTLE The world's biggest food group Nestle said on Thursday it was selling its Jenny Craig weight management businesses in North America and Oceania to private equity firm North Castle Partners for an undisclosed sum. TELEFONICA DEUTSCHLAND The company reported a drop in its operating income, dragged lower by promotions to add mobile subscribers in the highly competitive German mobile market. SKANSKA The Nordic region's biggest builder posted a rise in third-quarter operating earnings and order intake roughly in line with expectations on Thursday as construction activity edged higher on both sides of the North Atlantic. OMV Austrian oil and gas group OMV cut its forecast for 2013 production on Thursday, saying it now expected this to fall due to problems in Libya, Yemen, New Zealand and Austria. TATE & LYLE British sweetener maker Tate & Lyle reported lower profit for the first half of its fiscal year, citing cold spring weather in the United States that hurt demand for soft drinks. TALVIVAARA The Finnish nickel miner said it was in advanced talks to secure financing and avoid bankruptcy after a series of production disruptions, including a waste water leak. ADIDAS Adidas continued to lose ground to larger rival Nike in Europe in the third quarter, putting pressure on the sports apparel group to make the most of sales opportunities offered by next year's soccer World Cup in Brazil. HEIDELBERGCEMENT HeidelbergCement warned it would be much more difficult to reach its full-year targets due to currency headwinds as underlying earnings for the third quarter missed expectations.