European Factors to Watch-Shares seen steady, head for monthly loss

Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:41am EST

LONDON Jan 31 (Reuters) - European shares headed for a steady open on Friday, with mixed company results and persistent concerns about emerging market currencies prompting investors to trade cautiously on the last day of the month.

At 0738 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were down 0.1 percent to up 0.1 percent.

The fourth-quarter earnings season, which gathers pace in Europe, will be in the spotlight after Electrolux posted a bigger than expected fall in fourth-quarter core earnings.

The world's second-biggest home appliances maker, however, raised its outlook for Europe, saying it now expected long-suffering demand there to grow slightly this year.

In another major earnings announcement, Britain's BT returned to quarterly revenue growth for the first time in 4-1/2 years, driven by record customer demand for superfast broadband and its growing new sports TV service.

According to StarMine SmartEstimates, which focus on up-to-date predictions of the historically most accurate analysts, STOXX Europe 600 companies are on average seen missing consensus quarterly profit forecasts by 2.5 percent.

Analysts said that investors were expected to remain cautious, with the situation in emerging markets still fragile even after some central banks took action to try to prop up tumbling currencies.

"Emerging market volatility is going to be our companion for a while and may have a slightly negative impact on earnings as some companies will have to take currency losses on some of the assets denominated in foreign currencies," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said.

"Nevertheless, we do not think this will be powerful enough to derail the overall positive earnings picture."

The FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.3 percent firmer at 1,294.26 points after a choppy session on Thursday. It is down 1.7 percent this month and on track to end the month in negative territory after gaining in the previous four months.

The index has fallen more than 5 percent since hitting a 5-1/2-year high last week on jitters over currency turmoil in emerging markets that could affect the pace of the global economic recovery, and has turned negative for the year after climbing more than 16 percent in 2013. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > Asian stocks slip, yen pushes higher > Wall St rallies on Facebook and GDP; Amazon sinks late > Nikkei bounces as upbeat earnings, solid U.S. growth improves mood > Bond prices fall as emerging market fears ease > Dollar at one-week high after U.S. GDP; euro hits the skids > Gold set to snap 5-week rally on U.S. data, weak China demand > London copper set for 3.5 pct monthly fall as China growth slows > Brent holds near $108 on demand hopes, but faces monthly fall

COMPANY NEWS

BT

Britain's BT returned to quarterly revenue growth for the first time in four-and-a-half years on Friday, driven by record customer demand for superfast broadband and its growing new sports TV service.

ELECTROLUX

World number two home appliances maker Electrolux raised its outlook for Europe, saying it now expected long-suffering demand there to grow slightly this year after posting a bigger than expected fall in fourth-quarter core earnings.

BP

The company is dropping plans to invest in a refinery in China, three sources with direct knowledge said, the fourth refining project in recent months to fall foul of a slowdown in growth in the world's second-largest economy.

BBVA

Spain's second-biggest bank posted a smaller than expected fourth quarter loss of 849 million euros ($1 billion) on Friday, after it took charges from the sale of a 5 percent stake in China's CITIC Bank Corp.

CAIXABANK

Spain's third-biggest bank Caixabank on Friday posted a net profit of 503 million euros ($682 million) for 2013, more than double 2012 earnings as charges on soured property deals fell.

SCANIA

The truck maker's decision to cut its annual dividend this week has stirred up renewed opposition from Sweden's small shareholders' association and minority owners who question the intentions of Volkswagen which together with MAN SE hold nearly 90 percent of votes and about 60 percent of capital in Scania, daily Svenska Dagbladet reported.

SULZER, OERLIKON

Swiss machinery manufacturer Sulzer has agreed to sell its coatings unit Metco to peer Oerlikon

DAIMLER, VOLKSWAGEN

Daimler is open to broadening its cooperation with alliance partner Renault and Nissan to include other small cars, and to new projects with electric car maker Tesla Motors, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said on Thursday.

LVMH

The world's biggest luxury group posted an 8 percent rise in like-for-like full-year sales as buoyant duty-free and cosmetics revenue helped offset lower demand for cognac in China and Louis Vuitton handbags.

RENAULT

The carmaker and alliance partner Nissan raised their joint savings goal, vowing to deepen cooperation in vehicle development and production as the race for global scale intensifies among carmakers.