European Factors to Watch-Flat start eyed as sales updates disappoint

LONDON, April 15 Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:31am EDT

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen opening flat on Tuesday as disappointing sales updates from bellwether companies such as cosmetics group L'Oreal and drugs firm Roche put a lid on investor sentiment, which had been boosted by strong U.S. data the previous day.

Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open 1 to 2 points lower and France's CAC 40 to open 1 to 2 points higher, both flat in percentage terms, while Germany's DAX was seen edging 8 points higher, or 0.1 percent.

Asian shares edged higher on Tuesday after upbeat U.S. data helped Wall Street bounce from a sharp selloff in recent days, though tensions in Ukraine tempered demand for riskier assets.

Adverse currency moves weighed on first-quarter sales at Roche Holding AG , which came in slightly below the average analyst forecast in a Reuters poll despite a healthy uptake of its new cancer medicines.

French cosmetics group L'Oreal, shares in which rallied nearly 10 percent in the past month, also undershot market expectations with its first-quarter sales but pledged it would return to top-line growth in the second quarter.

"While shares have bounced off recent lows, we expect sequential operational improvement this year and reiterate our Overweight stance," analysts at Barclays wrote in a note.

Nestle's first-quarter sales also missed consensus expectations, hit among other factors by still subdued consumer sentiment in Europe, although the maker of Nescafe expects revenue growth to pick up in coming quarters.

Austrialian-listed shares in Rio Tinto's edged higher after the global miner said it remained on track to meet its full-year target despite an 8 percent drop in first-quarter shipments, which it blamed on weather-related disruptions in Australia and Canada.

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

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/rav46v > Asian shares edge higher on U.S. data, Ukraine anxiety lingers > Wall St ends up after Citi results, retail sales > Nikkei bounces from 6-mth lows on U.S. retail sales, weak yen > Yields rise as stocks gain, data signals economic growth > FOREX-Dollar firms after upbeat U.S. retail sales data > Gold slips from 3-wk high as strong equities offset safe-haven buying > METALS-Nickel eases from 14-month top, copper falls for 2nd day > Brent rises over $1.50 as Ukraine concerns sharply escalate

(Reporting By Francesco Canepa)

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