European Factors to Watch-Shares seen flat; earnings, data in focus

Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:48am EDT

(Adds snapshot table)
    LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - A raft of major company earnings and economic
data were seen dominating investor attention in Europe on Thursday, with key
benchmark equity indexes seen staying flat on developments in Ukraine and the
eurozone's disappointing pace of recovery.
    Other regions were cheered by a surprisingly strong reading on Chinese
manufacturing, bolstering hopes of recovery in the world's second-biggest
economy, and reaction to encouraging results from both Apple Inc and
Facebook : Asian stock markets were broadly higher and the S&P 500 
added 0.2 percent. 
    At 0606 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100
, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 were trading flat to
0.1 percent lower.
    Eurozone Markit PMI data was expected later on Thursday, along with more
news on the earnings front: Germany's BASF saw operating earnings
rise slightly less than expected as product prices slipped, while Finland's
Nokia reported better-than-expected quarterly profit margin in its
core networks unit and said expectations for 2014 had improved. 
    Unilever  reported a lower-than-expected increase in
second-quarter sales on Thursday, citing a slowdown in emerging markets and
continuing malaise in developed markets. 
    "Today's preliminary manufacturing and services PMI data for July from both
France and Germany could well reinforce the weak narrative for Q3," said Michael
Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.
    Legal risks were on the horizon for some firms, with Swiss bank UBS
 saying it had been ordered by French officials to pay 1.1 billion
euros ($1.48 billion) in bail over allegations it laundered the proceeds of tax
evasion and the head of Britain's Serious Fraud Office saying Alstom 
was nearing criminal charges over a probe into alleged corruption.
 
    Geopolitical tensions were also in focus after a powerful Ukrainian rebel
leader confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of
the type Washington says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
and it could have originated in Russia. 
    European Union ambassadors will debate proposals on Thursday on restricting
Russian access to Europe's capital markets and defence and energy technology but
are not expected to make a quick decision. 
    Gaza fighting also raged on Wednesday, displacing thousands more
Palestinians in the battered territory as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
said efforts to secure a truce between Israel and Hamas had made some progress.
 
    
    Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v)
    Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v)
    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0646 GMT:
    
                                             LAST  PCT CHG   NET CHG
 S&P 500                                 1,987.01   0.18 %      3.48
 NIKKEI                                  15284.42  -0.29 %    -44.14
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                            508.4   0.17 %      0.86
 EUR/USD                                   1.3444  -0.15 %   -0.0020
 USD/JPY                                   101.47      0 %    0.0000
 10-YR US TSY YLD                           2.464       --      0.00
 10-YR BUND YLD                             1.149       --      0.00
 SPOT GOLD                              $1,296.90  -0.53 %    -$6.94
 US CRUDE                                 $102.96  -0.16 %     -0.16
 
    
  > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares supported by upbeat China factory survey
 
  > US STOCKS-Apple pushes S&P 500 to record close; Boeing hits Dow 
  > Nikkei edges up as weak yen helps mood; China PMI, Japan earnings in focus
 
  > TREASURIES-Prices slip, but uptrend seen intact on global tensions 
  > EUROPE FX OPEN-Antipodeans in focus again, AUD up, NZD plunges 
  > PRECIOUS-Gold falls below $1,300 as equities gain; physical buying picks
up 
  > METALS-London copper hits one week top as China's growth revives 
  > Brent steady above $108, supported by China factory activity 
    
    COMPANY NEWS
    
    UNILEVER  
    The consumer-goods group reported a lower-than-expected increase in
second-quarter sales on Thursday, citing a slowdown in emerging markets and
continuing malaise in developed markets. 
    
    UBS 
    The Swiss bank said it had been ordered by French officials on Wednesday to
pay 1.1 billion euros ($1.48 billion) in bail after being put under formal
investigation over allegations it laundered the proceeds of tax evasion.
 
    
    BASF 
    Quarterly operating earnings at the world's largest chemicals company by
sales, rose slightly less than expected as product prices slipped.
 
    
    ROCHE 
    The Swiss drugmaker posted a slight fall in sales in the first half, as the
strong Swiss franc put the brakes on solid growth of its breast cancer
medicines. 
    
    ALSTOM 
    The British Serious Fraud Office's five-year investigation into alleged
corruption at Alstom is nearing criminal charges. "Significant developments are
imminent - charges are imminent," SFO head David Green said, adding that it was
logical in such a case to charge the company before focusing on individuals.
 
    
    ORANGE, MOBISTAR 
    Belgian mobile phone operator Mobistar will not be sold by its largest
shareholder, France's Orange, Mobistar's CEO said, commenting on reports that
other operators were interested in buying the group. 
    
    SABMILLER 
    The world's second-biggest brewer, reported higher first-quarter sales
volumes on Thursday, helped by demand during an Easter holiday that fell later
than last year. 
    
    UNIBAIL RODAMCO 
    Europe's biggest real estate company confirmed its 2014 earnings forecast as
a nascent economic recovery boosts tenants' sales at its shopping malls.
 
    
    REPSOL 
    The Spanish oil major posted a 2.7 percent decline in second-quarter
adjusted net profit on Thursday, hit by production shutdowns in Libya and higher
exploration costs. 
    
    BHP BILLITON PLC, ANGLO AMERICAN PLC 
    The miners are looking to sell their jointly owned manganese assets
portfolio in South Africa and Australia, the Wall Street Journal reported,
citing people familiar with the matter. 
    
    STANDARD CHARTERED PLC 
    The bank dismissed media rumours that its chairman was working on a
succession plan amid shareholder pressure. 
    
    BG GROUP 
    The oil and gas firm is considering selling its largest operations in the
North Sea for about 1 billion pounds ($1.70 billion), The Times reported on
Thursday. 
    
    KINGFISHER 
    Europe's largest home improvements retailer said its markets in its second
quarter, notably in June, had been slower than anticipated particularly in
France and Poland. 
    
    TATE & LYLE 
    The sweetener maker said on Thursday it had missed its expectations for
first quarter adjusted operating profit due to the severe weather in the United
States and the unexpected shut down of one of its factories. 
    
    REED ELSEVIER 
    The Anglo-Dutch information provider said it expected another year of
underlying earnings growth after reporting better-than-expected first-half
results. 
    
    BANKS 
    Britain's markets regulator and a group of global banks are in talks to
reach a first settlement in a currency-rigging probe, with a deal possible this
year, Bloomberg reported. 
    
    BSKYB 
    BSkyB is set to confirm its expansion in Europe on Friday, the Financial
Times reported. 
    
    BANKINTER 
    The mid-sized Spanish lender on Thursday posted a 31 percent rise in first
half net profit from a year ago, building on a recovery in revenues as the
country emerges from recession. 
    
    NOKIA 
    The Finnish telecoms gear maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly
profit margin in its core networks unit due to cost cuts and said its
expectations for full-year profitability have improved. 
    
    EASYJET 
    The low-cost airline said it was on track to grow annual profit by at least
14 percent assuming no further significant disruption over the next two months.
 
    
    TECHNIP 
    The French oil services firm cut on Thursday its operating margin target for
its onshore/offshore unit for this year and next, citing the possible impact of
sanctions on Russia on the Yamal LNG project in Siberia. 
    
    CLOSE BROTHERS GROUP 
    The UK company said group outlook was unchanged after its loan book grew 8
percent over five months to 5.2 billion pounds. 

 (Reporting by Lionel Laurent; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi and Alistair Smout)