February 14, 2014 / 6:35 AM / 4 years ago

European Factors to Watch-Shares set to rise after GDP data

PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Friday,
climbing for the seventh time in eight sessions, as data showing slightly
better-than-expected economic growth in Germany and France helped fuel
expectations of a rebound in corporate profits in Europe this year.
    At 0726 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were up 0.1 percent, for
UK's FTSE 100 down 0.1 percent, for Germany's DAX up 0.2 percent
and for France's CAC up 0.1 percent.
    While growth figures for the euro zone as a whole are expected at 1000 GMT,
data showed earlier on Friday the French economy grew 0.3 percent in the final
quarter of 2013, slightly beating expectations and boosted by corporate
investment, and German economic growth unexpectedly accelerated to 0.4 percent,
thanks to a rise in exports and capital investment. 
    The better-than-expected figures overshadowed a surprise drop in U.S. retail
sales in January and data showing more Americans filed for jobless benefits last
week, the latest signs that the U.S. economy started the year on softer footing.
    The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares has gained 4.3
percent since Feb. 4.
    Italian stocks will be in focus as Prime Minister Enrico Letta said he will
tender his resignation on Friday after his Democratic Party (PD) called for him
to step aside to make way for a new government. Letta's decision to quit came
after the PD supported a call by its 39-year-old leader Matteo Renzi for a more
ambitious government to pull Italy out of its economic slump. 
    "Whether the politically inexperienced Matteo Renzi is able to succeed where
Mario Monti and Enrico Letta failed is open to debate, but the omens aren't good
given the same dysfunctional political backdrop," Michael Hewson, chief market
analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a trading note.
    Overall, investors remained positive on European stocks, with data showing
further brisk inflows into the region.
    A poll by Thomson Reuters Lipper of 103 U.S.-based funds invested in
European equities, which include exchange-traded funds' (ETFs) holdings, shows
the funds added $778 million into European equities in the seven-day period to
Feb. 12, a 33rd straight week of net inflows - marking the longest streak of
weekly inflows since Lipper started to monitor flows in 1992.
    Europe bourses in 2014:Asset performance in 2014:------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        LAST         PCT CHG    NET CHG
 S&P 500                                1,829.83     0.58 %     10.57
 NIKKEI                                 14,313.03    -1.53 %    -221.71
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                        455.1        0.74 %     3.36
 EUR/USD                                1.3696       0.12 %     0.0017
 USD/JPY                                101.86       -0.28 %    -0.2900
 10-YR US TSY YLD                       2.728        --         -0.01
 10-YR BUND YLD                         1.679        --         0.01
 SPOT GOLD                              $1,307.26    0.38 %     $4.96
 US CRUDE                               $100.18      -0.17 %    -0.17
  > GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rise, dollar struggles after soft US data 
  > US STOCKS-Wall St closes higher; Nasdaq up for 6th straight day 
  > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 1.53 pct 
  > FOREX-Dollar struggles after soft US data, euro looks to GDP 
  > Gold steady above $1,300; on track for best week in 4 mths 
  > METALS-London copper set for flat close on week; top economies drag 
  > Brent steady below $109; Libya, Angola supply disruptions support 
    The global miner said on Friday its large Minas Rio project was on track to
deliver iron ore by the end of the year, as it posted a forecast-beating
increase in 2013 operating profit. 
    The German industrial group posted better than expected quarterly operating
profit as it reined in losses at its steel mill in Brazil, suggesting turnaround
efforts are starting to bear fruit. 
    The group said on Friday it would buy Sparbanken Oresund in southern Sweden
which will form part of a regional banking group in which the Swedish lender
will have a 22 percent stake. 
    The French utility, which posted a 7.4 percent rise in 2013 net profit,
expects its cash flow to turn positive in 2018 as big investment projects level
off in the coming years. 
    PSA Peugeot Citroen and Banco Santander are close to agreement on a European
car loans alliance that the French carmaker plans to unveil alongside a
recapitalisation deal with Chinese partner Dongfeng, sources said. 
    GPA, Brazil's top retailer, of which France's Casino is the controlling
shareholder, beat analyst forecasts with a 28 percent jump in quarterly profit
on Thursday, as leaner administration allowed it to bring down prices and
accelerate sales growth despite a fragile economy. 
    Prime Office AG said on Thursday existing shareholders had bought the 94 pct
worth of 46.6 million new shares offered by the German real estate company as
part of a 130 million euro ($177.66 million) capital increase at 2.80 euros a
share. About 2.6 million shares, or 5.7 percent, will to be placed via an
accelerated book building process. 
    The two banks are in talks to set up a vehicle to pool restructured loans
with a nominal value of 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), two sources close to the
matter told Reuters on Thursday. 
    The oil major said it would lift payouts for investors and cut back on
spending over the next three years, despite cutting its annual forecast for
output growth, falling into line behind Europe's other big oil firms on
dividends and costs. 
    Dior Couture posted first-half sales of 758 million euros, up 20 percent in
constant exchange rates, and a 31 percent jump in operating income, at 108
million euros.
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