LONDON Feb 5 European shares were set to fall for a fourth straight session on Wednesday, with concerns about earnings and the pace of global economic recovery prompting investors to further trim their equity exposure ahead of some risk events.
At 0731 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.3 to 0.5 percent lower.
The spotlight will be on the euro zone's retail sales and services PMI data and results from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline on Wednesday, the European Central Bank's interest rate decision on Thursday and widely-watched U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.
The events could set the market's near-term direction after recent sharp declines following some disappointing economic numbers from the United States and China and on growth concerns in emerging markets, which have witnessed capital outflows and weaker currencies after a further cut in U.S. stimulus.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which has fallen in seven out of the past nine sessions, is already down 6.7 percent since hitting a 5-1/2-year high two weeks ago.
The fourth quarter earnings season has been unable to provide a boost to the market so far as several heavyweight companies have disappointed investors in the recent past.
In the latest company statement, Syngenta said on Wednesday it planned to step up its focus on costs after the world's largest maker of crop chemicals reported a 11 percent drop in full-year profit.
Syngenta results came in a day after shares in Dutch telecoms group KPN fell about 5 percent after its profits missed expectations, while chip designer ARM Holdings fell nearly 6 percent after reporting a smaller than expected rise in fourth-quarter royalty revenues due to a slowdown in demand for some branded smartphones.
"Earnings growth in Europe has been negative over the last two years. If earnings do not improve during the next months, 2014 will prove to be a difficult year for the stock market," Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC, in Brussels, said.
According to StarMine SmartEstimates, which focus on up-to-date predictions of the historically most accurate analysts, STOXX Europe 600 companies are on average seen missing consensus quarterly profit forecasts by 1.4 percent.
Europe bourses in 2014:
Asset performance in 2014:------------------------------------------------------------------------------- > Asia shares falter, unable to shake jitters > Wall St bounces back as bargain hunters move in > Nikkei hands back gains, falls below 14,000 for 1st time since Oct > Yields rise from three-month lows as T-bills volatile > Yen firmer but below 11-week highs as EM tensions cool; Aussie slips > Gold extends losses as stocks rebound; physical demand weak > London copper edges up after snapping 9-session losing streak > Brent nudges up near $106; fall in Cushing stocks buoy US crude
The world's largest maker of crop chemicals said on Wednesday it plans to step up its focus on costs as it reported a 11 percent drop in full-year profit.
Swatch Group said it expects healthy growth this year after watch and jewelry sales helped net profit rise more than 20 percent in 2013.
The cable company stuck with its full-year outlook after posting a 3.7 percent increase in quarterly revenues as it added more internet and phone subscribers.
The German sportswear maker sued Under Armour Inc in a U.S. court over alleged infringement of patents governing fitness training and tracker devices, a court filing showed.
The company's Pimco Total Return Fund, the world's largest bond fund, extended last year's record net outflows with investors pulling $3.5 billion from the fund in January, Morningstar data showed on Tuesday.
The Swedish banking group proposed on Wednesday an extraordinary dividend as fourth-quarter operating profit landed above expectations.
The Swedish banking group reported on Wednesday a stronger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter operating profit as it proposed a dividend well above analyst forecasts.
Deutsche Bank has fired three New York-based currency traders, in the latest sign that a probe over alleged manipulation of foreign exchange markets is gathering steam, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Europe's biggest property group said on Tuesday its 2013 rental income rose 2.7 percent to 1.35 billion euros as stronger revenues from well-positioned shopping malls helped exceed profit targets despite the region's weak economic recovery.
The European aerospace company said it would add a new Airbus Helicopters production line at its Ontario facility.
The French reinsurer said on Wednesday that property-and-casualty premiums grew 5 pct during the January renewals period, alongside "stable" profitability levels.
The French supplier of marine services to the energy industry said 2013 revenue grew 10.5 percent to 1.3 billion euros.
The telecommunications firm is interested in buying a majority of Telekom Slovenije, German daily Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday, citing government sources in Slovenia.
Volkswagen is considering raising its stake in Swedish truck maker Scania , the Wall Street Journal's website reported late on Tuesday, citing financial sources.