January 23, 2014 / 6:35 AM / in 4 years

Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to dip after soft Chinese data

PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen edging lower on
Thursday, mirroring losses in Asia after softer-than-expected Chinese
manufacturing data fuelled concerns over the pace of growth in the world's
second-biggest economy.
    The flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.6 in
January, from December's 50.5, suggesting that activity in China's factory
sector contracted for the first time in six months. 
    At 0723 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, UK's FTSE 100,
Germany's DAX and France's CAC were down 0.1-0.2 percent.
    In Europe, investors awaited PMIs data for France, Germany and the euro zone
on Thursday, which should shed light on the pace of recovery in the region.
    "(The manufacturing and services PMI numbers for France) are both expected
to show continued contraction in economic activity, though the numbers are
expected to improve slightly from the previous readings," Michael Hewson, chief
market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note.
    "Unfortunately they will do nothing to alter the growing perception that
France is becoming the sick man of Europe, with manufacturing expected to come
in at 47.5 and services PMI to come in at 48.1."
    On the earnings front, Spanish banks will be in the spotlight after Banco
Sabadell said its full-year net profit tripled from a year earlier,
beating analyst expectations. 
    The airlines sector will also be in focus after British low-cost firm
easyJet said first-half seasonal losses would be higher this year than
last year, as it reported a 7.7 percent rise in quarterly revenues.
    European shares inched higher on Wednesday, led by robust results from Dutch
technology firm ASML, keeping the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50
 index hovering around a 5-year high hit recently.
    "Indexes are stuck in a tight range, and the selling pressure is slightly
rising on the short term around the indexes' recent peaks," Aurel BGC chartist
Gerard Sagnier said. "But it should be seen as a pause before the strong rally
resumes again."
                                        LAST         PCT CHG    NET CHG
 S&P 500                                1,844.86     0.06 %     1.06
 NIKKEI                                 15,695.89    -0.79 %    -125.07
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                        454.19       -1.24 %    -5.69
 EUR/USD                                1.3547       0.01 %     0.0001
 USD/JPY                                104.27       -0.21 %    -0.2200
 10-YR US TSY YLD                       2.849        --         -0.01
 10-YR BUND YLD                         1.752        --         0.00
 SPOT GOLD                              $1,236.90    0.07 %     $0.84
 US CRUDE                               $96.57       -0.17 %    -0.16
  > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares worn down by China worries 
  > US STOCKS-Wall St flat on earnings; IBM pressures Dow 
  > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 0.79 pct 
  > FOREX-Canadian dlr skids to 4 1/2 year low, China PMI hits Aussie 
  > PRECIOUS-Gold falls to 2-week low; Chinese demand worries grow 
  > METALS-London copper slips after weak China factory activity data 
  > Brent slips toward $108, weak China data stokes demand worries 
    The lender said its full-year net profit tripled from a year earlier,
beating analyst expectations. 
    The airlines sector will also be in the spotlight after British low-cost
firm said first-half seasonal losses would be higher this year than last year,
as it reported a 7.7 percent rise in quarterly revenues. 
    Italian banks, especially the bigger ones, will be able to cope "serenely"
with upcoming European Central Bank stress tests, Intesa Sanpaolo's supervisory
board president said on Wednesday. Giovanni Bazoli also said he was convinced a
planned 3 billion euro capital hike at Banca Monte dei Paschi would proceed to
an "adequate solution". 
    Unipolsai's proposed sale of some of its business to Allianz should satisfy
Italy's competition authority's demands that it dispose of certain assets, the
Italian insurance company's president said on Wednesday. 
    UBS, Credit Suisse Group AG, and Royal Bank of Scotland are being
investigated by EU antitrust regulators for suspected rigging of interest rates
linked to the Swiss franc, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
    Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported that talks between Credit
Suisse and U.S. authorities on settling allegations the bank helped Americans
evade taxes have intensified, and a settlement of more than $800 million could
be struck in the first half of the year.
    Chrysler Group filed to withdraw its IPO plans, after agreeing to sell to
Fiat North America, according to an SEC filing on Wednesday. 
    Chilean shipper Vapores said on Wednesday it signed a non-binding
memorandum of understanding to take a 30 percent stake in Germany's Hapag-Lloyd
HPLG.UL, which is 22 percent owned by TUI. 
    Newspaper Boersen-Zeitung cited financial sources as saying that Celesio's
majority shareholder Haniel is in talks to buy the Celesio stake held by hedge
fund Elliott as part of a fresh attempt to then sell the company to suitor
    Goldman Sachs said it intends to place as much as 15.2 million shares or
28.65 percent in real estate group LEG via an accelerated bookbuilding with
institutional investors. 
    The company on Thursday said it had agreed to set up a joint-venture with
Jurong Chemical, China's leader in acrylic acid. 
    Swiss specialty chemicals and life sciences group Lonza said on Thursday it
expects core earnings to grow 10 percent this year as it reported fourth-quarter
profit that missed expectations. 
    Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday it will place 5 percent of Spanish drug
maker Almirall, currently held by Grupo Plafin, through an accelerated book
building process. 
    Banca Carige said on Wednesday market watchdog Consob was contesting the
bank's financial statements for 2012 and the first half of 2013 because of
accounting irregularities.
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