European Factors to Watch-Steady start eyed; Burberry seen up
(Adds futures, further company news)
LONDON, July 10 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen opening steady on Thursday as investors digested strong earnings from luxury brand Burberry and a weaker update from Primark's owner AB Foods.
At 0631 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were between 0.1 percent higher and 0.1 percent lower.
Burberry posted a 12 percent rise in like-for-like retail sales for its fiscal first quarter to June 30, which traders described as very strong.
Associated British Foods increased its profit forecasts after a strong third-quarter performance but traders highlighted weakness at its sugar operations.
According to minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting released on Wednesday, the central bank acknowledged the recent strengthening in the U.S. economy but suggested it was unlikely to raise policy rates until the second half of 2015.
The absence of a more hawkish message from the Fed eased worries over interest rate rises and helped Wall Street snap a two-day slide on Wednesday, while driving U.S. Treasury yields lower.
"Overall, due to the lack of fresh insight, analysts mainly feel this implies the minutes were more dovish than anything else," Stan Shamu, market strategist at spreadbetter IG, said in a trading note.
China's imports and exports data for June missed market forecasts, but caused limited reaction in regional markets as it reinforced expectations that Beijing will have to unveil more stimulus measures to stabilise the economy and meet its 2014 growth target.
Commerzbank was once again in focus as sources said the German lender was expected to pay between $600 million and $800 million to resolve U.S. investigations. The penalty was previously reported to be more than $500 million.
Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v)
Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) > FED RELIEF LIFTS ASIAN STOCKS, DOLLAR SLIPS > WALL ST RISES AFTER FED MINUTES ON 'EASY MONEY' EXIT > NIKKEI FLAT AS POOR MACHINERY DATA OFFSETS FED OPTIMISM > U.S. BOND PRICES RISE AS FED HINTS NO HURRY TO HIKE RATES > FOREX-DOLLAR TRIPS OVER FED MINUTES, AUSSIE EYES JOBS TEST > GOLD UP ON WEAKER DOLLAR; INDIA BUDGET EYED FOR IMPORT DUTY CUT > LONDON COPPER STEADY, ALUMINIUM NEAR 13-MTH PEAK > BRENT INCHES DOWN TOWARD $108 ON WEAK U.S. GASOLINE DEMAND
The British luxury brand warned that if exchange rates remained at current levels, that would have a "material impact on profits" as it posted a 12 percent rise in like-for-like retail sales for its fiscal first quarter to June 30.
EURO ZONE BANKS
The European Central Bank aims to keep banks on a tight leash in the final phase of a balance sheet health check in October, giving them just 48 hours to review the test results before publishing them, two persons familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
The lender is expected to pay between $600 million and $800 million to resolve investigations into its dealings with Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions, sources familiar with the matter said.
Separately, a Frankfurt court heard on Wednesday that the lender's foreign exchange traders routinely performed trades of a type forbidden by the bank before two of them were fired for acting against clients' best interests.
For the second time in nine days, the French bank pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions, as part of a nearly $9 billion settlement in which BNP admitted to breaking embargoes against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.
An experimental drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc significantly reduced skin lesions and itching in adult patients with atopic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema that is poorly controlled by standard drugs, the companies said on Wednesday.
Airbus is sprinting to line up preliminary orders for a revamped version of its A330 jet and is on stand-by to make an announcement as early as next week's Farnborough Airshow, but no decision has been taken, people familiar with the matter said.
Central European airline Wizz Air is not in talks with potential buyers, a company spokesman was quoted as saying by business website Portfolio on Wednesday, denying media reports that Air France KLM was in advanced talks to buy the budget carrier.
Chief Executive Carsten Spohr is due to hold an investor presentation in London, a day after unveiling his new strategy for the airline.
French unions at struggling ferry operator SNCM tentatively agreed to wind down a strike over restructuring plans after Prime Minister Manuel Valls threatened imminent action to break up their blockade of ports in Marseille and Corsica.
Shareholders in Lafarge Wapco, the Nigerian unit of French cement maker Lafarge, on Wednesday approved a $1.35 billion deal combining its Nigerian businesses with Lafarge's wholly-owned South African subsidiary.
Volkswagen-owned Bugatti has developed the blueprint for a 2015 follow-up model to the $1.7 million limited-series Veyron that may sell out this year, two sources at VW group with knowledge of the matter said.
(Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Tricia Wright)