Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to inch up; Greece in focus
PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to inch higher on Wednesday, with Greece remaining at the forefront of investors' minds ahead of euro zone meetings to discuss the country's debt crisis. At 0729 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.1-0.3 percent. Late on Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras comfortably won a confidence vote on his plan to cancel a deeply unpopular bailout programme. European stocks rallied on Tuesday, boosted by several press reports pointing to a possible debt agreement between Greece and its international creditors, with one report citing a six-month debt extension. However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and a Commission spokeswoman later dismissed the media reports. Euro zone finance ministers will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to proceed with financial support for Greece, in preparation for talks among European Union leaders on the issue on Thursday. The meeting is set to start at 1630 GMT in Brussels. "So far, it seems optimism around the meeting has already managed to inspire some buying, with our current calls for the major European bourses suggesting we'll see a firmer open," IG market strategist Stan Shamu wrote in a note. Europe's banking sector will be in focus after ING Group said it will resume paying a dividend in 2015, the first time in seven years. Swiss bank Vontobel said on Wednesday it can absorb currency swings resulting from Switzerland's central bank removing a cap on the franc against the euro, as it posted full-year profit slightly below expectations. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0729 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,068.59 1.07 % 21.85 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 476.83 -0.29 % -1.38 EUR/USD 1.1307 -0.11 % -0.0012 USD/JPY 119.69 0.23 % 0.2800 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.979 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.360 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,237.65 0.31 % $3.85 US CRUDE $50.59 1.14 % 0.57 > GLOBAL MARKETS-STOCKS, CURRENCIES WARY OF GREEK CONFUSION > WALL ST RISES ON GREEK DEAL HOPES; APPLE HITS RECORD > TREASURIES-PRICES EASE ON RATE OUTLOOK; 10-YEAR YIELDS NEAR 2 PCT > DOLLAR SUPPORTED BY HIGHER YIELDS, EURO IN FOCUS BEFORE EU TALKS > GOLD EDGES UP AS INVESTORS EYE GREEK DEBT CRISIS > LONDON COPPER STEADIES AS OIL LENDS SUPPORT; CHINA EYED > BRENT HOLDS ABOVE $56 AFTER U.S. CRUDE STOCKS RISE LESS THAN EXPECTED COMPANY NEWS: ING ING Group on Wednesday posted numbers that missed analysts' expectations for fourth quarter pre-tax profit and said it will resume paying a dividend in 2015 - the first time in seven years. NORSK HYDRO The group, one of the world's largest aluminium producers, posted operating earnings significantly above forecasts on Wednesday, thanks to higher metals prices and the strong U.S. dollar, leading it to raise its dividend. VONTOBEL HOLDING The Swiss bank said on Wednesday it can absorb currency swings resulting from Switzerland's central bank removing a cap on the franc against the euro, as it posted full-year profit slightly below expectations. INTESA SANPAOLO, POPOLARE DI MILANO Italian banks set aside less cash than expected to cover for soured loans in the last quarter of last year, signalling they might be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as Italy's economy is set to emerge from a recession. Italy's biggest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, kicked off the reporting season by raising its shareholder payout and Popolare di Milano also returned to paying a dividend for the first time in four years. TULLOW OIL Africa-focused oil and gas explorer Tullow Oil has reported a $ 2billion pre-tax loss, its first in 15 years, and has scrapped a dividend payment as it deals with the consequences of fallen oil prices. RECKITT BECNKISER The British consumer goods maker said 2015 would be similar to last year, when sales were hurt by a slowdown in emerging markets. ARM British chip designer ARM Holdings posted a 25 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit, ahead of expectations, helped by a strong year end in companies licensing its technology and growing royalty revenues from customers such as Apple. GLENCORE Miner and commodities trader Glencore plans to divest its stake in platinum producer Lonmin and to cut capital expenditure this year in response to market volatility, it said on Wednesday as it reported increased copper and coal output. THOMAS COOK British holiday company Thomas Cook Group reported a narrower first-quarter seasonal loss and said it was on track to grow this year despite facing tough trading conditions in mainland Europe. TELENOR Norwegian mobile phone operator reported fourth-quarter earnings below expectations on Wednesday and proposed a dividend below market forecasts even as it predicted solid growth for 2015. ORIFLAME The Swedish cosmetics maker reported fourth quarter earnings slightly higher than a recent profit warning on Wednesday, and said year to date sales rose 1 percent. UNIPOL Italy's Unipol, the holding company that controls insurer UnipolSai, on Wednesday reported a full-year consolidated net profit of 505 million euros ($571 million), up from 188 million the previous year. BBVA Spanish bank BBVA is to strengthen its capital base through issuing contingent convertible bonds worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.70 billion). LUFTHANSA Pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) called a two-day strike at Lufthansa's Germanwings short-haul budget airline as a long-running row over retirement benefits and the airline's low-cost expansion plans entered a new year. AIRBUS GROUP South Korea's Asiana Airlines Inc said it would buy 25 aeroplanes from Airbus for 3.1 trillion won ($2.83 billion) over seven years through to 2025. DSM The Dutch life sciences, materials and nutrition company said it expected 2015 earnings to be higher than last year's despite low Vitamin E prices and negative currency effects, after posting fourth-quarter earnings and sales slightly ahead of estimates. EIFFAGE The French construction and concessions company posted weaker 2014 sales, which it mostly blamed on falling orders in the public works sector due to difficult economic times in France. STOREBRAND The Norwegian insurer reported fourth-quarter group profit below forecasts on Wednesday and reiterated it will not pay a dividend for 2014. TOTAL, VALLOUREC A group of French companies have joined forces to change perceptions of the shale energy sector in the face of the country's long-standing ban on hydraulic fracking despite France having to import nearly all its oil and gas. ELIS French industrial laundry company, 83 percent owned by investment group Eurazeo, set the price for its initial public offering at the bottom of the range, implying a market capitalisation of 1.48 billion euros ($1.68 billion). GDF SUEZ French start-up Sigfox has raised 100 million euros from seven heavy-weight investors to help it build new networks globally to connect everything from washing machines to smart metres to the Internet, sources said. Investors include Spain's Telefonica and GDF Suez, the sources said. ORPEA The care home operator said it was targeting 2015 revenue of 2.31 billion euros, up 18.6 percent, after 2014 sales rose 21.2 percent to 1.95 billion. BIC The maker of pens and lighters said 2014 net sales rose 4.9 percent on a comparable basis to 1.979 billion euros. Net income rose 8.5 percent to 262.1 million. It forecast a 4-5 percent rise in 2015 comparable group net sales. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Alistair Smout)
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