European Factors to Watch-Shares seen edging higher

LONDON Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:54am EDT

LONDON Aug 21 (Reuters) - European equities were expected to open slightly higher on Thursday, tracking gains in U.S. stocks following the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting, although progress was likely to be capped by disappointing data from China.

Miners are likely to come under pressure as a manufacturing survey from China, the world's biggest metals consumer, raised concerns about the economy. The HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 in August from July's 18-month high of 51.7, badly missing a Reuters forecast of 51.5.

At 0650 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, UK's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were 0.1 to 0.2 percent higher.

U.S. share indexes rose as much as 0.4 percent on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed's July 29-30 meeting showed that most Fed officials wanted more evidence before changing their view on when rates should rise.

Investors' focus will shift to the annual meeting of top central bankers in Jackson Hole from Thursday through Saturday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is likely to acknowledge that while data has generally been supportive, she remains concerned about slack in the labor market. She will speak on Friday.

On the earnings front, the picture remained mixed. Dutch supermarket group Ahold reported weaker-than-expected operating profit for the second quarter, while Swiss dental implant maker Nobel Biocare saw its net profit almost doubling in the second quarter.

Investors awaited a slew of data releases later in the session for hints about the market's near-term direction. Many will focus on flash Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data from both Germany and France, retail sales numbers from the United Kingdom and initial jobless claims figures from the United States.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > ASIA SHARES SLIP AS CHINA DISAPPOINTS, JAPAN BUCKS TREND > US STOCKS-DOW, S&P 500 RISE AFTER FED MINUTES REASSURE ON RATES > NIKKEI RISES TO 3-WK HIGH AS FED MINUTES HURT YEN, BUOY EXPORTERS > TREASURIES-YIELDS CLIMB TO ONE-WEEK PEAKS ON FED MINUTES > DOLLAR SURGES ON HAWKISH-SOUNDING FED, AUSSIE HIT BY CHINA PMI > GOLD EXTENDS LOSING STREAK; TRADES AT 2-WK LOW ON STRONG DOLLAR > LONDON COPPER STAYS AROUND $7,000 AS CHINA FACTORY GROWTH SLOWS > BRENT EDGES DOWN TO $102, NEAR 14-MONTH LOW, ON CHINA CONCERNS

COMPANY NEWS

AHOLD

Dutch supermarket group Ahold on Thursday reported weaker-than-expected operating profit for the second quarter, as sales fell in the United States and the Netherlands, its biggest markets.

NOBEL BIOCARE

The Swiss dental implant maker in talks with potential buyers about the sale of the company raised its profit margin target for this year after net profit almost doubled in the second quarter.

ALCATEL-LUCENT

Telecoms network equipment maker said on Wednesday it had made an early repayment of a $1.75 billion loan that was secured with the group's patents.

INFINEON TECHNOLOGIES

The German chipmaker late on Wednesday announced the takeover of Silicon Valley-based International Rectifier for about $3 billion in cash, in its biggest-ever acquisition.

BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO

Junior bondholders of Portugal's Banco Espirito Santo have selected law firm Shearman & Sterling to represent them in a challenge to the terms of the bank's rescue and will open discussions with the Bank of Portugal later this week, a source familiar with the situation said.

RTL GROUP

Broadcaster RTL Group cut its 2014 outlook on Thursday, citing among other a new advertising tax in Hungary that hit its earnings in the first half of the year.

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM

The head of the telcoms firm's Polish unit will leave his job after weaker than expected results there, Handelsblatt reported. Related news

ENERGY COMPANIES

Britain's opposition Labour Party has pledged to give energy regulator Ofgem the power to cancel electricity and gas suppliers' licences if they repeatedly breach rules and cause harm to their customers.

GEA GROUP

The German industrial machinery and process engineering group said planned restructuring would include about 1,000 job cuts over the next two to three years.

AIR BERLIN

Germany's second largest airline said it will cut the number of seats it offers and reduce the number of aircraft it operates as it launches a new plan to return to profits.

GTECH

The Italian lottery operator said on Wednesday 14 banks have agreed to lend it up to $10.7 billion, in part to back its planned acquisition of U.S. slot machine maker International Game Technology.

GEA GROUP

The German industrial machinery and process engineering group said late Wednesday it will reorganise its operational activities in a bid to reduce costs by 100 million euros a year by the end of 2017.

OPERA SOFTWARE

Norwegian software maker Opera reported second quarter earnings above expectations on Thursday and lifted its full-year revenue and earnings guidance.

ASTRAZENECA

Illumina announced strategic partnerships with drugmaker AstraZeneca, Janssen and Sanofi in the oncology area.

KAZAKHMYS

Kazakhstan-focused copper producer Kazakhmys posted a fall in first-half core profit, hit by lower metal prices, falling metal ore grades and higher production costs.

PREMIER OIL

Oil and gas explorer Premier Oil reported a 7 percent rise in first-half profit after tax, helped by a higher-than-expected increase in oil production from its British fields. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)