European Factors to Watch-Shares set for mixed open; miners in focus

LONDON Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:38am EST

LONDON Feb 26 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to edge lower on Wednesday, with the basic materials sector likely to be in focus as concerns over China weighed on metals prices although earnings could potentially provide some support.

Miners could extend a slide from the previous session after China's yuan weakened below the daily fixing for a second consecutive day on Wednesday.

Shanghai copper fell as much as 1 percent to a six-and-a-half-month low and Chinese steel and iron ore futures dropped for a sixth day in a row on concerns about credit availability and subsequent demand from users in the country, the world's biggest consumer of metals.

The mining sector in Europe posted its worst day in three weeks on Tuesday, pegging back European shares, with traders saying the China-related falls had further to go.

"(There are) nagging concerns that Chinese banks might be starting to pull back lending to the property sector, where there are a significant worries about frothiness," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said.

At 0727 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC were flat to 0.3 percent lower.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 had gained 6.4 percent in three weeks, lead up in part by a near 12 percent rally in the European basic resources sector, before steadying on Tuesday.

A decent earnings season has also supported gains since lows made in early February, with 59 percent of the STOXX Europe 600 that have reported results so far beating or meeting expectations.

Global equity markets were roiled in January over concerns about emerging market economies, but Anheuser-Busch Inbev were the latest company to reassure the market over the region.

The world's largest brewer reported a strong earnings expansion at the end of 2013, forecasting a return to growth of Brazilian and Mexican beer sales this year and improvement in the United States.

Europe bourses in 2014:

Asset performance in 2014:---------------------------------------------------------------- -------------- > Asia shares sluggish, semblance of calm returns to China > Wall St slips on day after S&P hits record high > Nikkei slips from 4-week high after U.S. data sours mood > Treasury yields sag on soft U.S. consumer confidence > Yen holds ground, China pushes yuan lower again > Gold holds near 4-month high on doubts over U.S. economy > Shanghai copper dips to 6-1/2-month low on China worries > Brent holds above $109; Cushing stock fall offsets weak data

COMPANY NEWS

ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV

The world's largest brewer forecast a return to growth of Brazilian and Mexican beer sales this year and improvement in the United States after strong earnings expansion at the end of 2013.

BOUYGUES

The French construction-to-telecoms conglomerate posted a 5 percent rise in full-year operating profit, as cost cuts offset a slump in revenue at its phone and television units.

AIRBUS

The aerospace group announced plans to hike passenger jet production almost 10 percent to keep up with record demand as it took charges on its newest jet and unveiled slightly higher-than-expected core profits.

As Airbus races through flight testing of its newest plane, the next-generation A350, Europe's planemaker faces growing battles to secure a future for the A330, until now its only truly lucrative wide-body jet.

EDF

President Francois Hollande has decided not to renew the mandate of power utility EDF's chairman and chief executive, Henri Proglio, when it expires on Nov. 22 this year, according to a report in the Canard Enchaine newspaper.

PETROFAC

British energy services firm Petrofac posted full-year profit ahead of forecasts and repeated a cautious outlook for the year ahead, expecting little or no growth as oil companies cut investment.

ITV - Britain's largest free-to-air broadcaster said it would pay a special dividend totalling 161 million pounds ($268 million) after posting a 21 percent rise in 2013 core earnings, spurred on by a rise in non-advertising revenues.

PEUGEOT SA

PSA Peugeot Citroen has launched syndication of a 2.7 billion euro syndicated credit facility, the lead banks announced.

ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND

The bank has received approval from Treasury agency UK Financial Investments to pay about 550 million pounds ($920 million) in staff bonuses for 2013, Sky News reported late on Tuesday.

ASTRAZENECA

The drugmaker said late on Tuesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Myalept (metreleptin for injection).

BARCLAYS

The bank said on Tuesday it has closed its power trading desks in London and New York, joining a string of global investment banks that are paring down their commodity market activities as increased regulations bite.

REPSOL Repsol said late on Tuesday that its board of directors had approved a $5 billion settlement from Argentina over assets seized in 2012 which will now need approval from the oil major's shareholders and the Argentine Congress.

Repsol also reported a fourth-quarter net loss of 1.028 billion euros ($1.41 billion) late on Tuesday.

HOLCIM

The Swiss cement maker posted a slower-than-expected increase in fourth-quarter operating profit, hit by exchange rate effects in key markets.

ENI

Russian state oil company Rosneft awarded its semi-annual April-September jumbo Urals crude tender for delivery from the Baltic Sea ports to Shell, Total and Eni, traders said on Tuesday.

TERNA

The Italian power grid operator said on Tuesday it had signed an agreement to acquire the entire capital of Tamini Trasformatori and some of its subsidiaries. The agreement, subject to certain conditions, provides for a transaction value for the sole manufacturing facilities equal to 23.9 million euros, Terna added.

PRYSMIAN

Italy's Prysmian, the world's largest cable maker by revenue, said on Tuesday it expects currency effects to hit earnings again this year after they contributed to a 4.3 percent drop in net profit in 2013.

VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT

French water and waste giant Veolia's chief executive, Antoine Frerot, looks set to survive a second boardroom coup in two years as a top candidate to replace him backed off, but tensions will remain with some shareholders who want deeper cost cuts.

SWISS LIFE

Swiss Life raised its dividend on Wednesday, after net profit for 2013 topped the most optimistic forecast in a poll, helped by cost cutting and increased premium income.

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EIFFAGE

France's third-largest construction and concessions company Eiffage won a 121 million euro contract for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance through to 2039 of the extension to the Dakar-Diamniadio toll motorway between the Diamniadio junction and Blaise Diagne International airport.

PARMALAT

Italy's diary company Parmalat said on Tuesday its 2013 gross operating margin rose 2.8 percent in 2013 from a year earlier to 437.2 million euros as its cost cutting strategy offset a rise in the cost of milk.

BANCA ALETTI, BANCO POPOLARE

Banca Aletti, part of Banco Popolare, reported a 58.4 percent drop in 2013 net profit to 47.1 million euros, the lender said on Tuesday.

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