UPDATE 1-European Factors to Watch-Weak China data set to weigh on shares

Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:27am EDT

(Adds futures prices, company news items)

LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - European equity index futures fell on Monday, with new signs of a possible economic slowdown in China - the world's second largest economy - expected to weigh on the region's stock markets.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 futures contract fell 0.8 percent, Germany's DAX futures weakened by 0.5 percent while France's CAC futures fell 0.6 percent.

Asian shares gave up earlier gains on Monday after the China HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to an eight-month low in March.

The preliminary reading of 48.1 fell from February's final reading of 48.5, while the "flash" March index also showed that new orders slid for a fourth consecutive month to 46.9 - its lowest point since July 2013, while output fell to 47.3, the lowest since September 2012.

Some traders cited speculation that the Chinese central bank could undertake stimulus measures in order to prop up the country's economy, but they added that for now, the weak nature of the PMI numbers was overriding any prospect of a Chinese central bank cash injection.

"It seems the markets are reacting more to the negativity of numbers rather than the potential cash injection," said Alpari UK chief market analyst James Hughes.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.1 percent to 1,307.24 points on Friday, enabling it to notch up a gain of 1.8 percent last week, which was its best weekly gain in a month.

Euro zone PMI economic data is due out on Monday, and a Reuters poll last week predicted that European stocks will extend their rally this year, fuelled by a long-awaited rebound in corporate profits as the region's economy picks up and global investors shift from emerging markets to Europe.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pad95v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/rav46v ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares up; China, Ukraine fears limit gains > US STOCKS-Wall St ends lower as biotechs fall; indexes up for week > Nikkei bounces off 6-week low, economic uncertainty casts shadow > TREASURIES-Prices rise, curve flattens on rate hike speculation > FOREX-U.S. dollar rally needs fresh catalyst, Aussie dips on China survey

> PRECIOUS-Gold ticks lower on dollar, palladium holds near 2-1/2-yr high

> METALS-Copper slips as China factory growth ebbs for fifth month > Brent holds above $106 on weak China data, seasonal slump

COMPANY NEWS:

AIRBUS :

Singapore's Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd has placed an order for 37 Airbus A320neo aircraft valued at $3.8 billion at list prices, taking delivery of the planes from 2018 to 2025, the carrier said in a statement on Monday.

BAYER :

Britain's healthcare cost agency has recommended against using Bayer's new prostate cancer drug Xofigo on the state health service because the German firm did not provide evidence on how well it worked compared to other therapies.

CREDIT SUISSE :

Credit Suisse could cut up to 500 jobs at its private bank as part of a cost-saving drive, a Swiss newspaper reported on Sunday.

NOKIA /MICROSOFT :

Finland's Nokia said on Monday it expected the 5.4 billion euro ($7.5 billion) sale of most of its Devices and Services business to Microsoft will close in April this year.

ORANGE :

Orange boss Stephane Richard has said he should be given a second term as chief executive of the state-backed telecom group despite an ongoing investigation of his role as a government aide in a 2008 arbitration case in which the state awarded a large payout to businessman Bernard Tapie.

STANDARD LIFE /PHOENIX :

British life insurance and pensions group Standard Life has announced it is in "exclusive and advanced" talks to buy rival Phoenix Group Holdings' Ignis Asset Management.

SWISSCOM :

Telecoms group Swisscom has 1.6-1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.8-$1.9 billion) available for acquisitions in Switzerland and Italy, the company's chief financial officer said in an interview published on Saturday.

TALANX :

German insurer Talanx AG raised its dividend and confirmed its 2014 outlook after comfortably beating analyst expectations and its own net profit target for 2013, helped by lower taxes. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, editing by Tricia Wright)

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