Europe Factors to Watch-Stocks set to bounce after Yellen comments
PARIS, Nov 14 (Reuters) - European stocks are set to rise on Thursday, bouncing from three-week lows hit in the previous day, after dovish comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen eased worries that the Fed could start winding down its stimulus measures this year. At 0721 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.7-1.1 percent. Yellen, in remarks released ahead of her closely-watched Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday to succeed Fed chief Ben Bernanke, said the central bank has "more work to do" to help the economy, indicating she was in no hurry to start trimming the bank's massive bond-buying programme, which has fuelled a sharp rally in equities this year. "This sets the scene for a fairly dovish testimony at the Senate hearing," IG market strategist Stan Shamu wrote in a note. "The question now is whether she can survive the wave of criticism that the Fed's bond-buying program is likely to face from politicians. She will really have to justify maintaining the program at the current pace, as the Fed's balance sheet blows out to $4 trillion. As a result, Yellen might actually play the fence to an extent in a bid to keep everyone happy." The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index, which fell 0.5 percent on Wednesday, is up about 21 percent since late June, a rise mostly fuelled by central banks' huge liquidity injections as well as by improvements in European economic data. The sharp five-month rally has propelled valuation ratios to levels not seen since before the financial crisis started in 2007, with the broad STOXX Europe 600 index trading at 13.4 times 12-month forward expected earnings, above a 10-year average of 12. () Tech shares will be in the spotlight after U.S. major Cisco Systems Inc warned its revenue would dive as much as 10 percent this quarter, and keep contracting until after the middle of 2014, sending its stock down more than 10 percent in late trade. Shares in luxury goods makers will also be in the spotlight after profit warnings from both Tod's and Gucci owner Kering. With Europe's earnings season drawing to an end, results have been disappointing, with half of companies missing profit forecasts while nearly two thirds have missed revenue forecasts, according to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine. This is a sharp contrast with results posted in the second quarter, during which only 42 percent of companies missed profit forecasts. On the macro front, investors awaited economic growth figures for the euro zone, due at 1000 GMT, but data released earlier on Thursday showed France's economy contracted 0.1 percent in the third quarter, slowing sharply from growth of 0.5 percent in the previous three months, and falling short of expectations for slight growth of 0.1 percent. Data also showed German economic growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the third quarter of the year, in line with consensus, with domestic demand fueling the expansion and exports weighing on growth. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0722 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,782.00 0.81 % 14.31 NIKKEI 14,876.41 2.12 % 309.25 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 538.68 0.98 % 5.23 EUR/USD 1.3455 -0.22 % -0.0029 USD/JPY 99.73 0.51 % 0.5100 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.730 -- -0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 1.729 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,283.14 0.35 % $4.53 US CRUDE $93.87 -0.01 % -0.01 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks up as Yellen flags Fed support > S&P 500 E-mini futures hit record high after Yellen's comments > Nikkei soars to near 6-month high, extends gains on Aso comments > FOREX-Dollar nurses losses after dovish Fed comments, yen slips > PRECIOUS-Gold extends gains as Yellen calms stimulus tapering fears > METALS-Copper rebounds from 3-month low after Yellen comments > FOREX-Dollar nurses losses after dovish Fed comments, yen slips COMPANY NEWS: UNICREDIT Italy's biggest lender by assets expects Europe's banking union to free up 7 billion euros ($9.4 billion) of capital from its German subsidiary HVB as capital requirements are equalised across the euro zone, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday. BNP PARIBAS The French bank has agreed to buy the Belgian state's 25 percent stake in BNP Paribas Fortis for 3.25 billion euros in a move that will help the country keep its commitment to lower public debt. BURBERRY British luxury brand Burberry met forecasts for flat profit in a first half period that reported revenue above 1 billion pounds ($1.60 billion) for the first time. KERING The French luxury and sports group issued a profit warning, blaming one-off charges related to Puma's restructuring and the disposal of loss-making mail order business La Redoute. MERCK The world's largest maker of liquid crystals for display screens raised its full-year outlook after posting third-quarter adjusted EBITDA that rose 10 percent, surpassing the average estimate in a Reuters poll. RWE Germany's second-biggest utility posted flat EBITDA of 6.71 billion euros for the first nine months of the financial year, lower than the 6.80 billion average analyst forecast in a Reuters poll. ZURICH INSURANCE Zurich Insurance Group posted a 64 percent rise in third-quarter net profit on Thursday, beating expectations, but warned it would not achieve some of its three-year targets. BOUYGUES The French conglomerate Bouygues stuck to its full-year forecasts after higher construction orders and savings at its telecom and media businesses helped lift third-quarter profits. ALSTOM Bouygues Chief Financial Officer Philippe Marien said it was keeping its options open regarding its stake in Alstom and was in no rush to make a decision as he welcomed the train and turbine maker's planned restructuring. SALZGITTER The German steelmaker stuck with its outlook for 2013 pretax loss of about 400 million euros ($536 million) after it said on Thursday that weak demand and prices caused its third-quarter loss to widen. CAIXABANK Spanish savings bank group La Caixa said on Wednesday it is to cut its majority stake in Caixabank, the country's third-biggest lender, with a 1.5 billion-euro ($2 billion) share placing and convertible bond issue. AHOLD The Dutch grocer reported lower-than-expected operating profit in the third quarter, as consumers spent less on their shopping, especially in the Netherlands. EADS The Airbus parent raised its forecast for passenger jet orders and deliveries as it posted a 22 percent increase in underlying nine-month operating profit to 2.3 billion euros. K+S The potash miner expects its annual operating profit will shrink by as much as a quarter this year, when EBIT should amount to over 600 million euros. SANOFI A federal advisory panel recommended approval of Sanofi's experimental Lemtrada multiple sclerosis drug, but said the drug should be reserved for patients who have failed other therapies. RCS MEDIAGROUP The Italian publisher has signed preliminary contracts to sell its headquarters in central Milan to U.S. fund Blackstone for 120 million euros, it said on Wednesday. It also said it expected 2013 revenues down 12 percent and a full-year net loss, as the advertising markets in Italy and Spain continue to be hit by an economic downturn. AIR FRANCE-KLM, ALITALIA The board of the Italian airline has approved a revised industrial plan, meant to help make the cash-strapped carrier more profitable, and extended the deadline for the end of its 300 million euros capital increase to Nov. 27. The extension gives top shareholder Air France-KLM more time to sign up. TOD'S The Italian luxury shoemaker said it would be difficult to meet consensus forecasts for full-year earnings as the company posted flat revenue and sales for the first nine months on Wednesday. SWISS RE Swiss Re said it had terminated discussions with Phoenix Group over a possible combination of the British life insurer with the Swiss reinsurer's Admin Re business. KBC The Belgian financial services group said it would need to take a provision of up to 775 million euros in the fourth quarter linked to loans and mortgages in Ireland. SODEXO The French catering-to-vouchers group forecast a rise in full-year 2013/2014 revenue and profit, helped by robust demand in Latin America and cost savings. TELEKOM AUSTRIA Telekom Austria reported a 5 percent drop in third-quarter sales and a 13 percent fall in core earnings on higher handset subsidies in Austria and lower roaming revenues in Croatia.