(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
"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
> 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
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
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Gopakumar