Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to rise; GDP figures in focus
PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Friday, adding to the previous session's gains, helped by positive growth figures for the euro zone. Data from Germany showed the economy grew by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, much stronger than expected, with domestic demand lifting Europe's largest economy out of its mid-year lull and boosting growth for the whole of last year to 1.6 percent. Data from France showed the economy grew by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, meeting analysts' expectations. The result meant the euro zone's second-largest economy grew by 0.4 percent over the course of last year, matching the government's estimate for full-year growth. At 0720 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were 0.4-0.5 percent. Greece was also set to remain in the spotlight. A government spokesman said on Friday that Greece will make every effort to reach an agreement with its euro zone partners at Monday's meeting of euro zone finance ministers on how to transition to a new support programme. On the earnings front, L'Oreal posted forecast-beating fourth-quarter comparable sales growth, driven in part by strong demand for its luxury fragrance and cosmetics brands. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest producer of steel, forecast on Friday that its profit would fall in 2015, rather than improve as expected, as iron ore prices sapped mining earnings and steel market growth cooled from last year. So far in Europe's earnings season, 55 percent of companies listed on the STOXX 600 have exceeded analyst forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data. In a typical quarter, 48 percent of companies beat estimates. Fourth quarter earnings are expected to grow 20.3 percent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0721 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,088.48 0.96 % 19.95 NIKKEI 17913.36 -0.37 % -66.36 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 482.66 1.49 % 7.07 EUR/USD 1.1427 0.22 % 0.0025 USD/JPY 118.85 -0.21 % -0.2500 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.993 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.333 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,230.35 0.67 % $8.15 US CRUDE $51.93 1.41 % 0.72 > GLOBAL MARKETS-SHARES UP ON UKRAINE CEASEFIRE, HOPES ON GREECE > WALL ST ENDS SHARPLY HIGHER ON TECH, UKRAINE DEAL > TOKYO'S NIKKEI SHARE AVERAGE CLOSES DOWN 0.37 PCT > U.S. TREASURIES STEADY AFTER CUTTING LOSSES ON WEAK U.S. DATA > SOFT DATA PUTS DOLLAR ON DEFENSIVE, EURO GIVEN BREATHER FOR NOW > PRECIOUS-GOLD UP ON WEAKER DOLLAR, BUT SET FOR 3RD WEEKLY DROP > LONDON COPPER SET FOR 2ND WEEKLY GAIN, BUOYED BY WEAKER DOLLAR > BRENT HOLDS ABOVE $59, UP MORE THAN 3 PCT ON WEEK COMPANY NEWS: L'OREAL The cosmetics group posted forecast-beating fourth-quarter comparable sales growth, driven in part by strong demand for its luxury fragrance and cosmetics brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Armani. ARCELORMITTAL ArcelorMittal, the world's largest producer of steel, forecast on Friday its profit would fall in 2015, rather than improve as expected, as iron ore prices sapped mining earnings and steel market growth cooled from last year. ANGLO AMERICAN Global miner Anglo American took a $3.9 billion writedown on Friday, mainly on its Brazilian iron ore operations, due to weak commodity prices. STATOIL Norway's Statoil unveiled plans on Friday to develop the giant Johan Sverdrup field in the North Sea, Europe's costliest offshore energy project, expecting to spend up to $29 billion and bring it into production by 2019. HSBC The Bank of England may look into allegations that Europe's biggest bank HSBC helped clients to avoid paying tax, a top BoE official said on Friday. "The allegations around HSBC raise serious issues around HSBC's conduct," Jon Cunliffe, the BoE's deputy governor for financial stability, told BBC radio. KLEPIERRE The French shopping mall operator Klepierre saw its 2014 net profit improve slightly even though revenues fell as the group sold non-core assets to refocus on fast-growing urban areas. BANKIA Spain's government is waiting for lender Bankia's share price to climb up to 1.5 euros before trying to sell another chunk of the state-controlled lender, ABC newspaper reported on Friday, without saying where it got the information. The state invested in Bankia during its bailout at 1.35 euros per share. The bank's shares closed at 1.17 euros on Thursday. NEXANS French cable maker Nexans said on Friday it will not pay a dividend for 2014 after it posted a net loss of 168 million euros ($192 million) last year, due to a one-time 197 million euros goodwill impairment charge. DASSAULT AVIATION, AIRBUS French President Francois Hollande said Egypt would order 24 Rafale fighter jets, one naval frigate and related military equipment in a deal to be signed in Cairo on Monday worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.70 billion). HAVAS The French advertising holding company achieved 3.5 percent organic sales growth on revenue of 551 million euros in the fourth quarter, finishing a strong year driven by new contract wins and strength in Britain and emerging markets. AIR FRANCE The airline plans to announce on Friday to its works council a plan to cut 348 jobs at its regional airports, Les Echos newspaper reported on its web site. AIRBUS The U.S. unit of Europe's Airbus Group was awarded a contract worth $221 million to build 41 more UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters for the U.S. Army, the Pentagon said in its daily digest of major contracts on Thursday. MEDIASET Fininvest, the holding company of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's family, has cashed in 377.2 million euros ($430 million) from the sale of a 7.8 pct stake in the private broadcaster. The sale took place through an accelerated bookbuilding at a price of 4.1 euros a share. PIRELLI The world's fifth-largest tyremaker on Thursday forecast an 11 percent rise in 2015 operating profit after profits for last year met expectations. CASINO Brazil's biggest retailer, GPA SA, posted a slightly lower fourth-quarter profit as a larger tax burden offset more profitable operations, according to a Thursday filing. GPA is controlled by France's Casino THYSSENKRUPP German industrial group confirmed its full-year forecasts after strong quarterly sales of capital goods compensated for a strike at its Italian stainless-steel unit. BEIERSDORF Germany's Beiersdorf said it expected sales growth to accelerate to 3-5 percent this year, with another slight improvement in its core profit margin, as it reported a slightly bigger than expected rise in 2014 earnings. ENEL Italy is trying to wrap up the planned sale of a 2 billion euro minority stake in the top utility by end-March, paving the way for more asset disposals, sources close to the matter said. MEDIOBANCA French insurer Groupama said on Thursday it had launched via a private placement and bookbuilding the sale of its 4.9-percent stake in Italian bank Mediobanca. SHIRE British pharmaceutical company Shire Plc has taken initial steps towards a bid for U.S. bowel drugmaker Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc and is working with advisers on a potential offer, according to people familiar with the matter. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
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