UPDATE 1-European Factors to Watch-Stocks set to edge up as 2014 starts
LONDON Jan 2 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to edge higher in the first session of 2014, extending gains after what was their best year since 2009, but gains were likely to be capped by weak Chinese data and by the large number of players still on holiday.
Historically, equities have enjoyed gains in early January as investors put on fresh bets for the year ahead, with sentiment this time cheered by the strong gains enjoyed over 2013.
Such flows looked set to outweigh the news that China's factory activity slowed in December, which raised concern about the strength of demand in the world's second biggest economy.
"We are going into the year on a little bit of a mixed picture in terms of macro data, but in terms of sentiment it's still strong in equity markets and seasonality wise January is normally a very strong month, you always see very strong bids in the market this time of year," said Peter Garnry, equity strategist at Saxo Bank.
"It has been quite an incredible rally and at some point I think we will need to see a correction, but it probably won't be in January."
The FTSEurofirst 300 share index rallied 16.1 percent in 2013, its best showing in four years, bolstered by ample liquidity from global central banks and nascent signs of an economic recovery in Europe. The index closed at 1,316.39 points on Dec. 31, around five-year highs.
Analysts are also upbeat on European equities in 2014, but most expect the returns to moderate.
Ahead of the cash market open, futures for the EuroSTOXX 50 index of euro zone bluechips were up 0.6 percent, while those for Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were all up around 0.3 percent by 0726 GMT.
Many market players were expected to remain on holiday until next week, with the corporate release calendar also quiet until then.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0615 GMT: > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares turn mixed as China disappoints > FOREX-Dollar near 5-year high vs yen, eyes on U.S. data > PRECIOUS-U.S. gold rallies 2 pct; bargain hunters shop around > METALS-Copper climbs to 6-month top on hopes of Chinese demand > Brent edges up to $111, but weak China data drags
Deutsche Telekom aims to expand its market leadership over the coming years thanks to its growing broadband network, Niek Jan van Damme, head of the company's German business, told Rheinische Post in an interview.
The real estate company's first dividend to shareholders following its 2013 listing could come to about 0.70 euros per share, its Chief Executive Rolf Buch told German daily Handelsblatt.
Italian carmaker Fiat said on Wednesday it has signed an agreement to buy the stake in U.S. automaker Chrysler Group LLC it does not already own, ending months of tense negotiations and allowing Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne to pursue his goal of creating the world's seventh-largest auto group.
The Spanish company sees net debt reduction of $3.3 billion from LNG sale.
MONTE DEI PASCHI
The Italian government has urged the troubled lender to complete its planned 3 billion euro cash call and avoid the threat of a state takeover after a stand-off between management and shareholders.
A board meeting scheduled around mid-January will likely be brought forward to Jan. 7 or 9, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.
Banking foundations Cariplo and Cariverona could assess at board meetings after Jan. 7 whether to buy part of the Monte dei Paschi foundation's stake in the bank, Il Sole 24 Ore said on Tuesday. A price of 0.17 euros a share could be the starting point for negotiations, it said citing rumours. Cariverona could use proceeds from a dispute it is trying to settle with state holding CDP to invest in Monte Paschi, the paper said.
The Monte Paschi main banking foundation shareholder said on Tuesday it had appointed Enrico Granata as its new managing director.
The drugmaker said it planned to expand access to information and data from clinical trials in support of an industry-wide initiative designed to speed up the discovery of new therapies and reduce duplication.
BlackRock has increased its holding in the media and telecoms group to just over 5 percent, according to a filing with the AMF stock market regulator.
Debenhams said its Finance Director Simon Herrick would step down with immediate effect, following a sever profit warning earlier in the after big discounts failed to spur a surge in last-minute Christmas shopping.
India cancelled its $770 million helicopter deal with Italian defence group Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland unit on Wednesday over what it termed a breach of integrity, but agreed to take part in an arbitration process.
The merger between Italian insurance groups Unipol and Fondiaria-SAI to create Italy's second-biggest insurer will be effective as of Jan 6, the companies said on Tuesday.
Unipol has sold its 1.85 percent stake in tyre maker Pirelli, a source close to the matter said on Tuesday.
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