European Factors to Watch-Shares seen steady at open

LONDON Thu May 29, 2014 2:30am EDT

LONDON May 29 (Reuters) - European equity futures were flat on Thursday, with the region's main stock markets expected to hold steady near multi-year highs on mounting prospects of new economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB).

The June futures contract for the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index edged up by 0.1 percent to 3,239 points by 0625 GMT, while the June futures contract for Germany's DAX also rose 0.1 percent to 9,939 points. France's CAC futures contract was flat.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,377.83 points on Wednesday, after hitting its highest level in more than six years on Tuesday. The index has been supported by an improvement in economic data from the United States and expectations of more policy easing by the ECB.

"The trend is up, the trend's your friend, but I wouldn't buy up at these levels," said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management, who added he would prefer to wait for pullbacks before buying DAX futures.

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

Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares at 1-year high, bonds fly high on ECB

> US STOCKS-S&P 500 falls shy of a record, breaks four days of gains > Nikkei snaps 5-day winning streak on falling U.S. shares > TREASURIES-Yields slump; 10-year slides to near 11-month low > FOREX-Dollar takes breather after rally; euro near 3-month low > PRECIOUS-Gold extends losses to third day, slips to 16-week low > METALS-London copper hovers near 3-mth high, China supports > Brent holds near $110 on demand hopes as US gasoline stocks fall

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NOVARTIS /ROCHE :

Italy said on Wednesday it was seeking more than a billion euros in damages from multinational drug companies following a ruling by the country's antitrust authority that their policies had been detrimental to Italy's national health service. The health ministry said in a statement it was requesting a total 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) from Novartis and Roche for the damages incurred in 2012-2014, and was requesting 14 million euros from Pfizer.

VOLKSWAGEN :

Porsche is inspecting 2,500 of its new Macan off-road vehicles to check for faulty brakes after quality tests revealed that some brake booster units may have been damaged during the assembly process, the carmaker said on Wednesday. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Prateek Chatterjee)

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