Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to pause, earnings in focus
PARIS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to open mostly unchanged on Thursday, halting a week-long slide as investors comb through a raft of corporate earnings, but data showing China's manufacturing measure slipping to a six-month low and a further cut in the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus kept investors on edge. At 0732 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were flat to up 0.2 percent. European stocks have sharply retreated over the past week, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares losing 4.2 percent in five sessions, as mounting concerns over a number of emerging economies prompted investors to dump risky assets such as equities. Pointing to a weak start for China's economy in 2014, the Markit/HSBC final manufacturing PMI for January dipped to 49.5 from December's 50.5. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction while one above shows expansion. The figure was in line with the 49.6 reported in the preliminary version of the PMI released a week earlier. Late on Wednesday, the Fed said it would trim its bond purchases by another $10 billion, as it stuck to a plan to scale back its stimulus despite recent turmoil in emerging markets. Last month, the Fed announced that it would start scaling back its quantitative easing programme, which had spurred a strong rally in equities worldwide in 2013. The move has prompted investors to repatriate investments from emerging markets, which have suffered massive outflows in the past weeks. "There had been some suggestion that this week's volatility in emerging markets might have given the Fed pause, but this was never a realistic possibility as it would merely be delaying the inevitable, and would not have sent a good message to the markets," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note. Investors' focus will also be on corporate results on Thursday, with earnings due from LVMH, Amazon, Google, 3M, UPS and Exxon. Energy shares will be in the spotlight after Royal Dutch Shell said it would step-up disposals and seek to return a greater share of earnings to investors as it posted fourth quarter profits in line with its downgraded forecast. Banking shares will also be in the spotlight after Santander, the euro zone's biggest bank, fell short of analysts' expectations as it posted 2013 profits. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0718 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,774.20 -1.02 % -18.3 NIKKEI 15,007.06 -2.45 % -376.85 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 443.57 -0.61 -2.71 EUR/USD 1.3646 -0.12 % -0.0016 USD/JPY 102.37 0.09 % 0.0900 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.697 -- 0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 1.634 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,260.80 -0.55 % -$6.99 US CRUDE $97.45 0.09 % 0.09 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares lurch lower, China data darkens mood > US STOCKS-Wall St sells off after Fed sticks with stimulus cuts > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 2.45 pct > FOREX -Yen edges higher as risk aversion flares up > PRECIOUS-Gold edges lower as Chinese support fades ahead of holiday > METALS-LME copper sinks to near two month trough on China PMI > Brent holds near $108 on cold spell, stimulus cut weighs COMPANY NEWS: ROYAL DUTCH SHELL The oil major said it would step-up disposals and seek to return a greater share of earnings to investors as it posted fourth quarter profits in line with its downgraded forecast. SANTANDER The euro zone's biggest bank on Thursday fell short of analysts' expectations as it posted a net profit of 4.37 billion euros ($5.96 billion) for 2013, nearly double what it earned the year before as charges on soured real estate exposures fell. HENNES & MAURITZ The world's second biggest fashion retailer said it was optimistic for 2014 even after it reported disappointing fourth-quarter profits. ROCHE Swiss drugmaker Roche reported full-year profit on Thursday that fell short of expectations, hit by the strengthening of the Swiss franc against the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen. ERICSSON The mobile telecom gear maker posted sales and fourth-quarter operating profit below expectations on Thursday and said network projects in China and Russia had not compensated for lower sales in North America and Japan. TELIASONERA The Nordic telecom operator said it expected flat sales and margins in 2014 after reporting fourth-quarter profit below expectations. GIVAUDAN Fragrance and flavour maker Givaudan hiked its dividend by 30 percent and said it wants to continue to gain market share, after full-year net profit beat views. NOVO NORDISK The Danish insulin producer edged its financial guidance for 2014 higher, saying it now expects sales to grow by 8-11 percent and operating profit to grow by around 10 percent in local currencies. DEUTSCHE BANK The way daily currency benchmarks are set in the $5-trillion-a-day market needs to be looked at but limiting trade at daily fixings is not the answer, Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner said on Wednesday. Separately, Deutsche Bank has suspended the head of its emerging markets foreign exchange trading desk in New York in connection with ongoing investigations into the alleged manipulation of the global currency market, a source familiar with the matter said. PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN PSA Peugeot Citroen Chairman Thierry Peugeot has written to his cousin Robert Peugeot, head of the FFP family holding, to criticise a planned tie-up with China's Dongfeng Motor 0489.HK that would dilute the family's influence, Les Echos reported. DASSAULT SYSTEMES Dassault Systemes said on Thursday it planned to buy San-Diego based software firm Accelrys in an all-cash tender offer valuing the U.S. company at around $750 million, as it seeks to expand its product portfolio. METRO German department store retailer Karstadt saw sales drop 3 percent in the key Christmas period, highlighting the challenge its incoming chief executive faces.