European Factors to Watch-Shares seen steady, focus on elections

Fri May 23, 2014 2:33am EDT

(Adds futures prices, company news)
    LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - European shares are expected to open steady on
Friday, with investors seen avoiding strong bets ahead of Ukrainian and European
election results.
    At 0625 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100
, Germany's DAX and France's CAC were flat to 0.09
percent lower.
    Investors will keep a close eye on Ukraine, where more than a dozen
servicemen were reported killed on Thursday in a clash with pro-Russian
separatists, fuelling security concerns ahead of Sunday's presidential election,
seen as crucial for its fragile democracy. 
    "Fears are that a presidential election will merely polarise the two sides
and could be a trigger for an escalation of fighting," Jonathan Sudaria, dealer
at Capital Spreads, said.
    "With the (European Union) voting already under way, concerns are brewing
that the corridors of power in Brussels could be full of eurosceptic,
anti-establishment parliamentarians."
    The EU's marathon parliamentary election kicked off on Thursday when Britain
and the Netherlands voted, with right-wing, anti-EU parties expected to attract
a surge of protest votes in many countries on a low turnout. 
    Analysts said there were concerns the EU elections could destabilise some
euro zone governments at home. In Italy, for example, a poor result for Prime
Minister Matteo Renzi's party could weaken his drive for swift reforms that he
promised when he took power.
    Italian and Spanish stocks underperformed firmer equity markets elsewhere in
Europe on Thursday on caution ahead of the EU election results. Italy's FTSE MIB
 closed down 1.1 percent, while Spain's IBEX fell 0.1 percent.
    The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, edged up 0.1 percent to
1,366.29 points - in sight of a six-year high of 1,372.81 points set last week.
    
    Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v)
    Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v)
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  MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0526 GMT: 
  
                                             LAST    PCT CHG     NET CHG
 S&P 500                                 1,892.49     0.24 %        4.46
 NIKKEI                                  14462.17     0.87 %      124.38
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                              488     0.16 %        0.79
 EUR/USD                                   1.3644    -0.07 %     -0.0010
 USD/JPY                                   101.63    -0.09 %     -0.0900
 10-YR US TSY YLD                           2.548         --       -0.01
 10-YR BUND YLD                             1.411         --        0.00
 SPOT GOLD                              $1,293.90     0.03 %       $0.40
 US CRUDE                                 $103.82     0.08 %        0.08
  
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    COMPANY NEWS
    
    ASTRAZENECA 
    BlackRock Inc, AstraZeneca Plc's largest shareholder, wants the drugmaker to
resume talks with Pfizer Inc about a potential sale eventually, but
backs its decision this week to reject Pfizer's current bid, according to two
people familiar with the matter. 
    
    SIEMENS, ALSTOM 
    General Electric Co has agreed to extend its $16.9 billion bid for
the power arm of France's Alstom until June 23 from June 2 at the request of the
French government, the U.S. company said on Thursday. 
    
    BASF 
    The world's top chemicals firm by sales said it would not allow the Ukraine
crisis to jeopardise its business in Russia or its partnership with
state-controlled gas producer Gazprom, describing the standoff as isolated.
 
    
    DAIMLER, VW, BMW 
    New-car sales in the United States are expected to rise more than 7 percent
in May and continue the strong spring selling season as the month includes five
weekends, two industry research firms said on Thursday. Related news 
    
    CREDIT SUISSE, DEUTSCHE BANK 
    Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank made a surprise move on the US bond market
on Thursday, printing US$5bn and US$3.5bn respectively of senior unsecured
Yankee issuance. For more, click on 
    
    BARCLAYS 
    Barclays is sounding out potential buyers for its Spanish retail bank,
people familiar with the matter said, adding that local peers and private equity
firms could be interested in parts of the business. 
        

 (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and John Stonestreet)
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