LONDON, June 19 European shares were likely to open slightly
higher on Wednesday, with investors seen staying cautious ahead of the end of
the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting that could provide hints about the future of
its stimulus programmes.
Focus will be on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference, half an hour
after the central bank's post-meeting statement due at 1800 GMT, for clues about
the future of its bond buying operations, which had helped stocks to hit new
highs before falling on winding down concerns.
"The Fed's tone will clearly influence the action. If Bernanke indicates
that tapering is quite a bit of distance off, investors will feel relieved and
equities can revisit their recent highs," Philippe Gijsels, head of research at
BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said.
"If not, brace for a lot of nervousness and volatility. But this could just
be a pause in the bull run and not the start of a new bear market as the
building blocks for the continuation of the recent rally are still in place."
At 0634 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100,
Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.2 to 0.4 percent stronger,
taking heart from a rise of 1.8 percent on Japan's Nikkei on Wednesday.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,183.44
points in the previous session, about 6 percent below its 5-year peak set last
month. The index has fallen in the past weeks on concerns the Fed might start
withdrawing its liquidity support sooner than the market earlier expected.
The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index ended flat at
2,700.93 points. Charts showed the index found support at 2,696, its 50 percent
retracement of a rise from early April to late May.
The index is expected to face stiff resistance at its 50-day moving average
at 2,722 and further at around 2,733, its 38.2 percent retracement from a move
Investors will keep a close eye on macroeconomic indicators for signals
about the market's near-term direction. U.S. weekly mortgage data is due at 1100
GMT, while the minutes from the Bank of England's June meeting, due at 0830 GMT,
would be scrutinised for insight about the central bank's thinking.
MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0633 GMT
LAST PCT CHG NET CHG
S&P 500 1,651.81 0.78 % 12.77
NIKKEI 13,245.22 1.83 % 237.94
MSCI ASIA EX-JP 514.05 -0.36 % -1.86
EUR/USD 1.3405 0.09 % 0.0012
USD/JPY 95.01 -0.33 % -0.3100
10-YR US TSY YLD 2.184 -- 0.00
10-YR BUND YLD 1.561 -- -0.01
SPOT GOLD $1,366.50 -0.09 % -$1.29
US CRUDE $98.65 0.21 % 0.21
> Nikkei outperforms Asian stocks as Fed looms
> Wall St extends rise, investors see no change in Fed policy
> Nikkei rises 1.3 pct on weak yen, Fed hopes; Softbank soars
> U.S. bond prices steady before Fed policy meeting
> Dollar edges down vs yen as Fed, Bernanke awaited
> Gold slips for 3rd day on rally in stocks, Fed caution
> London copper languishes near 1-1/2 mth low, Fed in focus
> Brent holds above $106, all eyes on Fed
HENNES & MAURITZ
The world's second-biggest fashion retailer posted on Wednesday a slightly
bigger drop than expected in fiscal second-quarter pretax earnings but said
sales had gotten off to a good start in June.[ID:nWEB006V6'
Britain's Vodafone has raised its preliminary offer to buy Kabel Deutschland
a day after U.S. media group Liberty Global Plc made a rival bid,
Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the bid.
Shareholders in the German real estate company supported a vote of no
confidence in the company's newly appointed chief executive.
Sweden is selling a 5.7 percent stake in Nordea, the Nordic region's biggest
bank, in a move that may give the centre-right ruling coalition some fiscal
leeway ahead of an election next year.
Chinese network equipment and cellphone maker Huawei Technologies Co said it
"has no plans to acquire Nokia, responding to a Financial Times report that it
would consider buying the Finish phone maker.
The company's Chief Executive Michel Combes said the loss-making telecom
equipment group needs to adjust its cost structure to be at similar level to
peers, such as Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks.
The group's Belgian unit will take a 9.6 percent stake in Belgian property
investment company Befimmo in exchange for an office building in Antwerp,