European Factors to Watch-Shares set to rise after GDP data
PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Friday, climbing for the seventh time in eight sessions, as data showing slightly better-than-expected economic growth in Germany and France helped fuel expectations of a rebound in corporate profits in Europe this year. At 0726 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were up 0.1 percent, for UK's FTSE 100 down 0.1 percent, for Germany's DAX up 0.2 percent and for France's CAC up 0.1 percent. While growth figures for the euro zone as a whole are expected at 1000 GMT, data showed earlier on Friday the French economy grew 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2013, slightly beating expectations and boosted by corporate investment, and German economic growth unexpectedly accelerated to 0.4 percent, thanks to a rise in exports and capital investment. The better-than-expected figures overshadowed a surprise drop in U.S. retail sales in January and data showing more Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, the latest signs that the U.S. economy started the year on softer footing. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares has gained 4.3 percent since Feb. 4. Italian stocks will be in focus as Prime Minister Enrico Letta said he will tender his resignation on Friday after his Democratic Party (PD) called for him to step aside to make way for a new government. Letta's decision to quit came after the PD supported a call by its 39-year-old leader Matteo Renzi for a more ambitious government to pull Italy out of its economic slump. "Whether the politically inexperienced Matteo Renzi is able to succeed where Mario Monti and Enrico Letta failed is open to debate, but the omens aren't good given the same dysfunctional political backdrop," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a trading note. Overall, investors remained positive on European stocks, with data showing further brisk inflows into the region. A poll by Thomson Reuters Lipper of 103 U.S.-based funds invested in European equities, which include exchange-traded funds' (ETFs) holdings, shows the funds added $778 million into European equities in the seven-day period to Feb. 12, a 33rd straight week of net inflows - marking the longest streak of weekly inflows since Lipper started to monitor flows in 1992. Europe bourses in 2014:Asset performance in 2014:------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0728 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,829.83 0.58 % 10.57 NIKKEI 14,313.03 -1.53 % -221.71 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 455.1 0.74 % 3.36 EUR/USD 1.3696 0.12 % 0.0017 USD/JPY 101.86 -0.28 % -0.2900 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.728 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.679 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,307.26 0.38 % $4.96 US CRUDE $100.18 -0.17 % -0.17 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rise, dollar struggles after soft US data > US STOCKS-Wall St closes higher; Nasdaq up for 6th straight day > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 1.53 pct > FOREX-Dollar struggles after soft US data, euro looks to GDP > Gold steady above $1,300; on track for best week in 4 mths > METALS-London copper set for flat close on week; top economies drag > Brent steady below $109; Libya, Angola supply disruptions support COMPANY NEWS: ANGLO AMERICAN The global miner said on Friday its large Minas Rio project was on track to deliver iron ore by the end of the year, as it posted a forecast-beating increase in 2013 operating profit. THYSSENKRUPP The German industrial group posted better than expected quarterly operating profit as it reined in losses at its steel mill in Brazil, suggesting turnaround efforts are starting to bear fruit. SWEDBANK The group said on Friday it would buy Sparbanken Oresund in southern Sweden which will form part of a regional banking group in which the Swedish lender will have a 22 percent stake. EDF The French utility, which posted a 7.4 percent rise in 2013 net profit, expects its cash flow to turn positive in 2018 as big investment projects level off in the coming years. PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN, BANCO SANTANDER PSA Peugeot Citroen and Banco Santander are close to agreement on a European car loans alliance that the French carmaker plans to unveil alongside a recapitalisation deal with Chinese partner Dongfeng, sources said. CASINO GPA, Brazil's top retailer, of which France's Casino is the controlling shareholder, beat analyst forecasts with a 28 percent jump in quarterly profit on Thursday, as leaner administration allowed it to bring down prices and accelerate sales growth despite a fragile economy. PRIME OFFICE Prime Office AG said on Thursday existing shareholders had bought the 94 pct worth of 46.6 million new shares offered by the German real estate company as part of a 130 million euro ($177.66 million) capital increase at 2.80 euros a share. About 2.6 million shares, or 5.7 percent, will to be placed via an accelerated book building process. UNICREDIT, INTESA SANPAOLO The two banks are in talks to set up a vehicle to pool restructured loans with a nominal value of 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Thursday. ENI The oil major said it would lift payouts for investors and cut back on spending over the next three years, despite cutting its annual forecast for output growth, falling into line behind Europe's other big oil firms on dividends and costs. CHRISTIAN DIOR Dior Couture posted first-half sales of 758 million euros, up 20 percent in constant exchange rates, and a 31 percent jump in operating income, at 108 million euros.