Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to inch up; eyes on Fed
PARIS, June 18 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to inch higher on Wednesday, mirroring gains on Wall Street, although the rise was seen limited as investors waited on the sidelines for the U.S. Federal Reserve to conclude its two-day policy meeting. At 0617 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.1-0.3 percent. The Fed is widely expected to cut another $10 billion from its monthly bond purchases, while investors will be watching for any comments on when the Fed would begin to raise interest rates and its outlook for the economy. Data released on Tuesday showed a surprisingly high reading for U.S. inflation, which sparked speculation of a hawkish tilt to the Fed's policy outlook. "The rise in inflation could well give the Fed problems though given its dual mandate, and irrespective of how well the economy is growing if unemployment continues to drift lower, rate hikes could well come sooner, especially if inflation continues to tick up," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note. Investors were also cautious as violence in Iraq continued, keeping Brent crude prices above $113 per barrel. Heavy fighting shut the country's biggest refinery and led to the withdrawal of staff by foreign oil firms, fearing Islamic militants from the north could strike at major oilfields concentrated in the south despite moves by the Iraqi government to tighten security. Shares in Hennes & Mauritz will be in focus after the world's second biggest fashion retailer reported second-quarter profits right in line with analyst forecasts and said sales in June had gotten off to a good start. Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v) Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0618 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,941.99 0.22 % 4.21 NIKKEI 15115.8 0.93 % 139.83 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 488.45 -0.25 % -1.24 EUR/USD 1.3543 -0.01 % -0.0002 USD/JPY 102.24 0.1 % 0.1000 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.646 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.402 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,268.04 -0.25 % -$3.15 US CRUDE $106.56 0.19 % 0.20 > GLOBAL MARKETS-DOLLAR FIRM, INFLATION ADDS TO FED RISK > US STOCKS-BANKS LEAD WALL ST HIGHER; CYCLICALS RALLY > NIKKEI EDGES UP ON WALL ST, WEAK YEN > FOREX-DOLLAR UNDERPINNED BY INFLATION DATA, ALL EYES ON FED > GOLD SLIPS AHEAD OF FED ON STRONGER DOLLAR, FUND OUTFLOWS > COPPER EDGES TO NEAR 2-WEEK PEAK ON HOPES FOR CHINA SUPPORT > BRENT HOLDS ABOVE $113 AMID IRAQ VIOLENCE COMPANY NEWS: HENNES & MAURITZ The world's second biggest fashion retailer reported second-quarter profits right in line with analyst forecasts and said sales in June had gotten off to a good start. SIEMENS, ALSTOM The French government raised the stakes in the battle for engineering group Alstom on Tuesday, telling rival suitors General Electric (GE) and Siemens to come up with better offers. The French government is willing to take a stake of 10 percent or more in Alstom alongside Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as part of the Japanese firm's joint offer with Siemens, an Alstom union representative told Reuters on Tuesday. VP BANK The Swiss lender said on Wednesday that net profit for the first half of this year would be "significantly lower" than the prior-year period, citing declining interest rates. NOVARTIS Swiss drugmaker Novartis said its recent business overhaul should boost profitability and speed up growth as it focuses on businesses with scale and higher margins. In a statement published ahead of its investor day in Basel on Wednesday, Novartis said its new structure would have added an extra 250 basis points to last year's core operating income margin. BANCO POPOLARE The bank said on Tuesday rating agency Standard & Poor's had raised the rating of its stand-alone credit profile from "B" to "B+", while the long and short-term ratings of the lender and of its subsidiaries Credito Bergamasco and Banca Aletti were affirmed at "BB-/B", with negative outlook. SANTANDER, BBVA, BARCLAYS Santander Totta, the Portuguese offshoot of Spain's Santander, is eyeing the local commercial loan books of Barclays and BBVA, chief executive Antonio Vieira Monteiro told Reuters on Tuesday. ZODIAC The French aircraft cabin and systems maker said that nine-month revenue rose 7.3 percent, helped by growth in air travel and higher plane deliveries. EDF France is set to unveil a much-delayed energy transition bill on Wednesday that will avoid making tough choices on its dominant nuclear energy sector, instead focusing on measures to cut red tape currently stifling renewables and boost energy savings. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Atul Prakash)
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