By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, March 14 European shares were poised to open lower on Friday, setting some national indexes on track for what could be their worst weekly loss since June as investors grew increasingly worried about the threat of war in Ukraine and jitters in the Chinese credit market.
At 0718 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were down between 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent.
The DAX and FTSE cash indexes were already down 3.6 percent and 2.4 percent for the week, respectively, roughly matching falls suffered in the five days to Jan 24. The expected, further declines on Friday would drag both indexes to their biggest weekly fall for nine months.
Investors have been spooked by an increase in tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and mixed data from China, where authorities are putting pressure on banks to reduce lending to troubled industries.
Assets which depend on economic growth, such as stocks, were under pressure while perceived safe havens, such as gold and U.S. Treasuries, rose as Russia showed no sign of backing down on plans to annex Ukraine's Crimea region despite a stronger than expected drive for sanctions from the EU and United States.
Investors were reluctant to open new long positions in stocks ahead of the weekend, when Crimean residents will vote on whether they want their region to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine.
"I'm short the whole lot (of European equity indexes)," Alex Chehade, senior dealer at spreadbetter Tradenext, said. "I'm long bonds and gold - there's a real flight to safety here."
Europe bourses in 2014:
Asset performance in 2014:> Asian stocks tumble, yen stands tall on Ukraine crisis > Wall St tumbles as Ukraine tensions rise, China slows > Nikkei slides to 1-mth low as Ukraine, China woes unnerve investors > TREASURIES-Prices hit one-week high as Crimea tensions heighten > FOREX-Yen, Swiss franc in demand on renewed anxiety over Ukraine > PRECIOUS-Gold hits fresh six-month highs on Ukraine, China worries > METALS-LME copper slips, eyes biggest weekly fall in 11 months > Brent rises towards $108 on mounting Ukraine worries
The U.S. government lifted a ban on Thursday that excluded BP from new federal contracts, after the British oil major filed a lawsuit saying it was being unfairly penalized for its 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.
The British bank is reviewing the size and shape of its investment bank, in a review that is expected to result in it shrinking and focusing on its most profitable areas, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The board of France's Vivendi is to meet on Friday to debate two competing bids to buy its mobile and fixed operator SFR, a deal that could reshape Europe's third-biggest telecom market.
Rajeev Suri, the head of Nokia's network division (NSN), is set to become the Finnish group's next CEO following the sale of its phone business to Microsoft, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
The French maker of computer-assisted design programmes extended its tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares in U.S. scientific software firm Accelrys at an offer price of $12.5 per share till Mar. 25.
France's Carrefour SA could raise as much as 5 billion reais ($2.1 billion) from the sale of a stake in its Brazilian unit, with potential bidders including Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz and a sovereign wealth fund, a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
Veolia board members representing its top three shareholders and more than 20 percent of its stock abstained from the vote to re-elect Chief Executive Antoine Frerot in February.
Three anti-union Volkswagen workers have sued the German automaker and the United Auto Workers in U.S. court, alleging that they improperly colluded in the run-up to a union election in Tennessee that the UAW lost.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) FIA.MI should post a higher first-quarter trading profit than a year ago, Italian news agency Radiocor cited the carmaker's Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne as saying on Thursday.
The truck maker announced the pricing of its offering of 1 billion euros, guaranteed 2.750 percent notes due March 2019.