March 13, 2013 / 6:35 AM / 4 years ago

Europe Factors to Watch-Futures mixed; Italy in focus

7 Min Read

PARIS, March 13 (Reuters) - European stock index futures pointed to a mixed
open on Wednesday, with investors' focus on Italy's first long-term debt auction
since its credit downgrade.
    At 0733 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were down 0.1 percent, for
Germany's DAX up 0.08 percent and for France's CAC down 0.07
    All eyes will be on the Italian market as the country is set to sell up to
7.25 billion euros in debt less than a week after Fitch downgraded Italy's
credit rating, which has driven the country's borrowing costs higher.
    Concerns about the pace of economic reforms in the debt-stricken country
following last month's inconclusive elections have weighed on Italian shares,
with Milan's FTSE MIB down 11 percent from a peak hit in late January,
in sharp contrast with Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 which
have hit multi-year highs in the past few days.
    "Italy is still a serious risk, and if bond yields go up again, it could
derail the stock rally in Europe. As long as we don't have a clear idea of where
the country is heading, it's hard to be bullish on equities," a Paris-based
equity and exchange-traded fund trader said.
    On the earnings front, Zara owner Inditex will be in the spotlight
after posting a 22 percent jump in 2012 profits, even as austerity-hit shoppers
in Europe tightened belts. 
    European shares ended mostly unchanged on Tuesday, taking their cues from a
mixed showing on Wall Street and pausing for breath before what technical
analysts say could be a push to fresh multi-year highs.
    "The consolidation phases we've recently seen have been very shallow. The
risk for investors now is to miss the rally, and be forced to buy when there's a
pull-back, which should fuel the rise," Aurel BGC chartist Gerard Sagnier said.
    "We can't exclude a further 10 percent gain in the next two months."
 MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0733 GMT                            
                                         LAST  PCT CHG  NET CHG
 S&P 500                             1,552.48  -0.24 %    -3.74
 NIKKEI                             12,239.66  -0.61 %   -75.15
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                       548.57  -0.73 %    -4.03
 EUR/USD                                1.304   0.06 %   0.0008
 USD/JPY                                95.64  -0.44 %  -0.4200
 10-YR US TSY YLD                       2.016       --     0.00
 10-YR BUND YLD                         1.490       --     0.01
 SPOT GOLD                          $1,592.64   0.03 %    $0.55
 US CRUDE                              $92.78   0.26 %     0.24
  > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares ease, sterling remains vulnerable 
  > US STOCKS-S&P 500 dips after 7-day rally; Dow edges up to record high 
  > Nikkei slips for second day on profit-taking 
  > TREASURIES-Bonds gain in Asia, retail sales in focus 
  > FOREX-Yen takes a breather from fall, sterling wallows 
  > Gold holds near two-week high on euro zone concerns 
  > Shanghai copper hits 1-1/2-week high on demand upturn 
  > Brent steady above $109 on stable demand outlook, stockpile fall 
    Zara owner Inditex posted a 22 percent rise in 2012 profit to 2.4 billion
euros ($3.13 billion) on Wednesday, shrugging off belt-tightening in home market
Spain by tapping fashion-hungry consumers in markets like Asia. 
    Top staffing company Adecco said revenues were down 5 percent for
the first two months of the year as it reported fourth quarter profits that fell
shy of analyst expectations. For related news click on 
    PSA Peugeot Citroen is losing two senior members of Chief Executive Philippe
Varin's top team, presenting a further challenge to the carmaker in its efforts
to reverse mounting losses. 
    The U.S. FCC and DoJ on Tuesday approved unit T-Mobile USA's merger with
MetroPCS. The latter also fought back against shareholder criticism of
its proposed merger ahead of a shareholder vote on April 12. 
    The security group posted a 6 percent rise in annual profit as emerging
markets growth helped soften the blow of an Olympics staffing blunder that
rocked the British firm in 2012.
    The U.S. government is investigating the top global miner for possible
corrupt practices, the company confirmed, after media reports said it was being
probed for its sponsorship of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 
    Germany's second largest lender invited banks to pitch for an accelerated
capital increase of up to 10 percent of new shares, two sources familiar with
the matter said on Tuesday.
    Separately, Handelsblatt reported Commerzbank's supervisory board will on
Wednesday discuss the matter of a capital increase - which it said could have a
volume of between 700 million euros ($911.5 million) and almost 3 billion euros.
    The oil services group said on Wednesday it had acquired Ingenium, a
Norwegian offshore engineering contractor. No financial details were given.
    European aerospace group EADS on Tuesday said it had named Peugeot research
and development chief Guillaume Faury to head its Eurocopter division, replacing
Lutz Bertling, who is resigning. 
    STMicroelectronics and Ericsson have failed to find a buyer for
their loss making wireless electronic chip joint venture and will now consider
whether to close the business down, news service Bloomberg said on its website. 
    The gaming company forecast on Tuesday a rise in 2013 core profits and
revenues, underpinned by its video lottery business in Canada, and proposed a
2012 dividend of 0.73 euros per share, against 0.71 euros paid on its 2011
    The bank said it could cut its presence in Hungary after losses there pushed
it into the red in the last quarter, calling the eastern European country a
"nightmare" for the banking industry.
    The company aims to close the sale of its stake in uranium enrichment firm
Urenco either this year or next, Germany's top utility said at its annual press
conference on Wednesday.

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