(Adds futures, company news items, live quote)
LONDON, April 3 European equity futures were flat on Thursday, with many investors holding fire to see whether the European Central Bank (ECB), due to announce its rate decision later in the day, would give more signs it is ready to fight pressures weighing on the euro zone.
The euro zone's Euro STOXX 50 futures contract edged up by 0.1 percent by 0620 GMT, Germany's DAX futures was flat while France's CAC futures also inched higher by 0.1 percent.
The ECB will announce its interest rate decision at 1145 GMT and ECB President Mario Draghi will explain any further policy decisions at a news conference at 1230 GMT at the central bank's Frankfurt headquarters.
The ECB looks set to keep interest rates steady and offer no new aid to the euro zone's fragile recovery despite a fall in inflation to its lowest in more than four years.
Policymakers have been willing in recent weeks to publicly broach cutting deposit rates below zero - effectively charging banks to hold cash with the ECB - or embarking on bond purchases as the United States, Japan and Britain have.
A straightforward cut in the ECB's main refinancing rate to 0.1 percent from 0.25 percent - or more complex changes to existing market programmes - are other possibilities.
"I don't think we'll do too much ahead of the ECB. My own view is that if they cut, we may rally for a bit and then sell off, and if they don't cut, markets will sell off," said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.
"I think the market has got ahead of itself, ahead of the ECB," he added.
Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Banking (CA-CIB) wrote in a research note that it expected the ECB to ease policy.
"Dovish talk alone is unlikely to satisfy the market," Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Banking (CA-CIB) wrote.
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pad95v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/rav46v ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS -Asian stocks at 4-mth high on solid U.S data, China hopes boost Nikkei > US STOCKS-S&P 500 ends at another record; data puts jobs in focus > Nikkei rises to 3-wk high on China stimulus steps, solid U.S. data > TREASURIES-U.S. bond yields rise after jobs, factory orders data > FOREX-Euro loses verve as caution sets in before ECB review > PRECIOUS-Gold up for 2nd day on short-covering ahead of U.S. jobs data
> METALS-London copper slips on disappointment over China stimulus > Brent near 5-mth low below $105, market braces for Libyan supply
Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut confirmed its mid-term financial targets after an improvement in profitability helped net profit rise 8.9 percent in the six months to February.
Swiss bank Credit Suisse has doubled its litigation provisions as it increased the funds it has set aside to settle an ongoing U.S. tax probe and avoid prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes.
KINGFISHER /MR BRICOLAGE :
Kingfisher, Europe's No. 1 home improvement retailer, has entered into exclusive negotiations with the main investors of French rival Mr Bricolage to buy their shareholdings.
German airline Lufthansa is seeking a buyer for part of its IT unit as it seeks to overhaul the entire division, and has already held some early talks with interested parties, it said on Wednesday.
Sanofi is on the lookout for acquisitions to boost key business units, such as consumer and animal health products, and expects strong growth in the "strategic continent" of Africa, its chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday.
Storebrand, Norway's largest insurer, expects new reserve requirements tied to existing pension contracts to result in a charge of 80 million to 100 million crowns ($13.39 million-$16.74 million) in the first quarter, it said on Thursday.
TATE & LYLE
British food ingredients firm Tate & Lyle PLC said on Thursday that it still expects flat earnings for the year ended 31 March due to a dramatic drop in prices of its sucralose sweetener and weak soft drink sales in the United States. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Gopakumar Warrier)