European Factors to Watch-Futures rise, Vodafone and Liberty seal deal

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LONDON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - European equity futures rose on Tuesday, tracking gains in Asian equities while telecoms stocks could again come into focus after a deal between British phone network operator Vodafone Plc and John Malone’s cable company Liberty Global Plc.

Futures on the Euro STOXX 50, German DAX and French CAC were all up by 0.4 percent, while futures on Britain’s FTSE rose by a more modest 0.2 percent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index had climbed sharply for the second consecutive session on Monday, closing up 2.9 percent as banking and telecoms stocks rose.

Telecoms stocks could again come into focus after British phone network operator Vodafone Plc and John Malone’s cable company Liberty Global Plc agreed late on Monday to combine their operations in the Netherlands for a better footing in the local market.

France’s biggest telecoms operator Orange is also in talks over Bouygues Telecom, and Orange said on Tuesday that those talks were still ongoing and would “require at least several weeks before any decision is taken”.

Traders said European equities had been further supported by European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi reiterating on Monday that the ECB was ready to act in March if inflation expectations remain weak.

According to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, 52 percent of the companies on the European STOXX 600 index to have reported fourth-quarter results so far have met or beaten expectations, while 48 percent have missed.



Deutsche Bank employees alleged to have evaded tax when buying and selling carbon emission certificates had concerns over whether their trading activity was legal but carried on anyway to maximize profits, a Frankfurt court heard on Monday.


EDF said on Tuesday that due to asset impairments and provisions its 2015 net income plunged 68 percent to 1.19 billion euros from 3.70 billion last year and proposed to cut its dividend to 1.10 euros per share from 1.25 euros with an option for payment in new shares.


The founding family of Gameloft has raised its stake in the company as it seeks to fend off a “creeping takeover” of the video games maker, according to a statement from France’s AMF financial regulator on Monday.


Germany’s HeidelbergCement said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter core profit rose 11 percent, lifted by mild weather in Europe and a weaker euro, helping it to meet analysts’ expectations.


Oslo-listed Kvaerner, which builds large structures like oil platforms, will suspend dividend payments in the first half of this year despite posting better-than-expected earnings on Tuesday.


French tyre maker Michelin said on Tuesday its profit rose 13 percent last year as sales increased in most regions and a weaker euro boosted revenue, offsetting competitive pressure on prices.


France’s biggest telecoms operator, Orange, said on Tuesday that it beat its own profit targets in 2015 as it continued to cut labour costs and benefited from the stabilisation of its total sales.


Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, expects to make robust investments in Brazil’s offshore resources, hoping to quadruple oil and gas output there by the end of the decade, its chief executive officer said on Monday.


Telecom Italia on Tuesday reported a 20 percent drop in its 2015 core earnings, hit by 1.08 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of one-off charges and further deterioration in its key Brazilian market.


UK phone network operator Vodafone Plc and John Malone’s cable company Liberty Global Plc agreed on Monday to combine their operations in the Netherlands for a better footing in the local market. Vodafone will pay 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) in cash to Liberty as part of the agreement to combine its mobile operations with Liberty’s fiber broadband network Ziggo in a 50-50 joint venture, the companies said in a statement.


Volkswagen AG expects its China sales may rise in line with the overall auto market this year, as it explores potential cooperation with domestic firm JAC Motors in what could be a third partnership with Chinese automakers. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares extend gains as investor fears ease > Nikkei rises in choppy trade; SoftBank soars on share buyback plan > TREASURIES-Bond yields rise on upbeat U.S. retail sales data > FOREX-Dollar stands tall vs yen, euro as risk aversion ebbs for now > PRECIOUS-Gold slumps below $1,200, risk appetite dents safe-haven demand > METALS-London copper rallies on hopes of new measures from China > Oil rises on chance of output cuts as producers to meet (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)