European Factors to Watch-Shares seen edging higher after one-month low

Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:41am EDT

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - European shares were expected to edge higher in cautious trading on Thursday, with a more than 3 percent slide in less than a week to a one-month low seen prompting some investors to look for bargains.

However, more data from China indicating a slowdown in economic growth in the world's second-largest economy was likely to keep investors jittery and make major stock indexes vulnerable to further sell-offs, analysts said.

China's industrial output growth came in below forecasts for the combined January/February period, with retail sales also weaker than expected. Some analysts said the figures pointed to a 7 percent economic growth this year, against a target of 7.5 percent.

The tense geopolitical situation in Ukraine has also been forcing investors to trade cautiously. A resolution of the dispute in the near-term remained out of sight, with the European Union agreeing on a framework for its first sanctions on Russia since the Cold War.

"In the short-run, equity markets are risk-averse due to the political uncertainties and the fear of a slowdown in China," Christian Stocker, equity strategist at UniCredit, said.

"But in the medium-term, the picture remains positive for equities. Our mid-year index target for the DAX is 10,000 points and for the Euro STOXX 50 is 3,250 points."

Germany's DAX fell 1.3 percent to 9,188.69 points on Wednesday, while the euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 ended 0.9 percent lower at 3,065.46 points.

At 0729 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.1 to 0.3 percent higher.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 1.1 percent lower in the previous session after hitting a one-month low. The index has fallen 3.2 percent since March 6 and closed below its 50 percent retracement of a rally from February 4 to 25.

On the macroeconomic data front, investors will scrutinise U.S. initial jobless claims numbers and retail sales figures, both due at 1230 GMT, for hints about the pace of economic growth in the United States.

Europe bourses in 2014:

Asset performance in 2014:------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > Asian shares tick up cautiously as China data looms > Wall St little changed as Ukraine, China concerns brushed off > Nikkei edges up as machinery data supports; China caution continues > U.S. bond prices rise on China jitters, solid auction > Safe-haven yen, franc in favour, Antipodeans surge > Gold up at 6-month high as Ukraine, China prompt safe-haven bids > Copper futures hold near multi-year lows; tone cautious > Brent firms above $108 on supply risks, demand outlook

COMPANY NEWS

WM MORRISON SUPERMARKETS

Britain's fourth biggest grocer Wm Morrison posted its lowest profit in five years, slashed expectations going forward and said it plans to sell off one billion pounds ($1.66 billion) of its 9 billion pound property portfolio.

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL

Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday it was cutting spending on American upstream by a fifth this year after losses in resources plays such as shale in yet another step by an oil major to reduce exposure to the booming industry.

HUGO BOSS

German fashion house Hugo Boss on Thursday said it expected 2014 sales and earnings to rise by a high single-digit percentage at constant currencies.

LUFTHANSA

Germany's largest airline said it was confident of reaching the goals set out under a wide-ranging restructuring programme as it reported better than expected quarterly profit and restored its dividend payout.

GENERALI

The Italian insurer proposed to hike its dividend to 0.45 euros ($0.63) a share, more than double what it distributed to investors a year earlier, after posting its highest full-year net profit in six years.

DELHAIZE

The Belgian supermarkets group posted a 3.7 percent rise in Ebitda on revenue of 21.1 billion euros, up 3.1 percent on an organic basis. It proposed raising its dividend by 11 percent to 1.56 euros a share.

GLAXOSMITHKLINE

GlaxoSmithKline said its non-inhaled treatment for a type of severe asthma met the main goals in two late-stage studies.

HOCHTIEF

German builder Hochtief has installed its chief executive at the helm of majority-owned Leighton Holdings Ltd and claimed more seats in the boardroom, cementing its grip on the Australian company that supplies much of its profit.

ADECCO

The Jacobs group said it would sell a 16 percent stake in Adecco, the world's largest staffing agency, in an accelerated bookbuilding which will reduce its stake to 2.5 percent as it attempts to diversify its portfolio.

BRITISH INSURERS

The insurance bill for flooding across areas of Britain since the start of the year is set to reach 446 million pounds ($741.59 million), the Association of British Insurers said on Thursday.

CREDIT SUISSE

A former Credit Suisse banker pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to help U.S. customers evade taxes by using Swiss accounts, and said he did so with the encouragement of his superiors, according to documents filed in court. For more, click on

VIVENDI, BOUYGUES, NUMERICABLE

The board of Bouygues was meeting on Wednesday afternoon to approve an increase in its bid for Vivendi's SFR in an attempt to gain the upper hand against rival buyer Numericable, said two people familiar with the matter.

DAIMLER

This year, the German car and truck maker will cut costs at its trucks division by around 700 million euros ($973.34 million), and at its Mercedes-Benz Cars division by 600-800 million, as part of an already announced cost savings programme, Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber told German publication Boerse Online. Related news

LAGARDERE

French media group Lagardere on Wednesday proposed a special dividend of six euros a share to redistribute part of the proceeds from the sale of its 20 percent stake in pay-TV operator Canal Plus France last year.

EUROTUNNEL

The operator of the Channel Tunnel hiked its dividend and forecast a rise in profit this year and next, driven by strong freight traffic and a recovery in the UK.

PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN

French civil servant Louis Gallois is set to become chairman of the French carmaker after the founding Peugeot family was persuaded by the government to support his nomination, Le Figaro reported.

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