April 23, 2014 / 5:35 AM / 4 years ago

Europe Factors to Watch-Stocks set to pause ahead of PMIs

PARIS, April 23 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to open flat to
slightly lower on Wednesday, taking a breather following the previous session's
sharp rally as investors awaited manufacturing data for France, Germany and the
euro zone.
    At 0616 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100,
for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were flat to down 0.1
    Data showed on Wednesday China's HSBC/Markit flash Purchasing Managers Index
(PMI) for April rose to 48.3 from March's final reading of 48.0, broadly in line
with forecasts, with analysts seeing the figure as an initial sign of
stabilisation in the economy following the government's targeted measures to
support growth. 
    All eyes will be on the French PMIs on Wednesday following the surprisingly
strong reading for March, when Markit's composite PMI index rose to 51.8 from
47.9 in February.
    "Today's latest (French) flash PMI data are likely to show whether the March
numbers were a 'flash in the pan' or one-off, or were an early indication of a
French economy on the brink of a turnaround in economic activity," Michael
Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note.
    Results were mixed on the earnings front on Wednesday in Europe, with mobile
telecom gear maker Ericsson posting sales and operating profit below
expectations, while UK chipmaker ARM Holdings reported a 9 percent rise
in first-quarter profit and said its customers were signaling an upturn in
demand in the second half.
    The broad FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares surged 1.3
percent on Tuesday, propelled by merger and acquisition activity in the
pharmaceutical sector.
    Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v)
    Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v)
                                         LAST  PCT CHG  NET CHG
 S&P 500                             1,879.55   0.41 %     7.66
 NIKKEI                             14,546.27   1.09 %    157.5
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                       480.51  -0.35 %    -1.71
 EUR/USD                               1.3834   0.22 %   0.0031
 USD/JPY                               102.61   0.01 %   0.0100
 10-YR US TSY YLD                       2.710       --    -0.02
 10-YR BUND YLD                         1.538       --    -0.01
 SPOT GOLD                          $1,283.64   0.05 %    $0.64
 US CRUDE                             $101.67  -0.08 %    -0.08
  > Global Markets-China PMI in line, aussie sags on inflation data 
  > US STOCKS-Earnings, healthcare give Wall St sixth straight gain 
  > Nikkei gains on Wall St rally, investors cautious ahead of earnings 
  > Aussie slides on inflation data, other major currencies subdued 
  > Gold hovers near 2-1/2-month lows on firm equities, fund outflows 
  > Nickel hits 14-1/2-month high, copper sags after China PMI 
  > Brent holds above $109 as China data meets forecast, Ukraine supports 
    The British company whose chip technology powers Apple's iPhone, reported a
9 percent rise in first-quarter profit and said its customers were signaling an
upturn in demand in the second half. 
    The mobile telecom gear maker posted sales and first-quarter operating
profit below expectations on Wednesday but said recent contracts won by the
group would lift sales in the second half of the year. 
    The aerospace group posted a 3.3 percent rise in first-quarter revenue and
confirmed its outlook for 2014 despite concerns over the strength of the euro,
telling investors it had tempered the currency's rise through improved hedging.
    The European real estate group confirmed its target for full-year recurring
earnings per share growth of at least 5.5 percent after a "moderate pick-up" in
the European economy helped drive first-quarter turnover higher. 
    The Nordic telecom operator posted first-quarter core earnings (EBITDA
excluding items) just below market expectations and repeated its outlook for
full-year 2014. 
    France's treasury chief, Ramon Fernandez, is expected to join the
state-backed telecom group as chief financial officer, according to the Wall
Street Journal. 
    Nigeria has awarded most of its long-term oil contracts worth an estimated
$40 billion a year to local companies, according to a confidential list seen by
Reuters, meaning global traders need to partner with them to access crude from
Africa's top producer. 
    The French utility is nearing an accord to lower electricity tariffs paid by
a group of industrial companies, including chemical maker Solvay and
metals group ArcelorMittal, according to Les Echos newspaper.
    The chairman of the Chinese unit of the French utility has apologised to the
public after a cancer-inducing chemical was found in tap water supplied by the
company, the Xinhua news agency said. 
    Azul Linhas Aereas, Brazil's third-biggest airline, is set to announce a
fleet expansion on Wednesday including an order for its first wide-body aircraft
from European planemaker Airbus, according to two people with knowledge of the
    The French aerospace contractor posted higher underlying profit and revenue
in its fiscal first half and said it would continue looking for acquisitions as
the aerospace industry gears up for record production to meet growth in
passenger traffic. 
    Germany's largest lender is trimming its equities team in Latin America and
is considering shutting its equities business in Chile, Bloomberg reported on
Wednesday citing two people familiar with the matter. 
    Gamco Investors Inc said it would tender its Scania AB 
shares into Volkswagen's tender offer. Gamco said it holds 945,617 A shares and
577,748 B shares on behalf of its clients. 

 (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Alistair Smout)
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