(Adds further company news)
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - European shares were seen opening flat to slightly higher on Tuesday, with mining shares in focus after better-than-expected results from BHP Billiton.
Futures for the Euro STOXX 50 equity index, Germany’s DAX, Britain’s FTSE 100 and France’s CAC were between flat and 0.1 percent higher at 0718 GMT.
Shares in BHP Billiton rose in Australia on Tuesday after the global miner beat market forecasts by posting a smaller-than-expected 31 percent drop in half-year profit and flagged further belt tightening to withstand a collapse in the price of all its main products.
Telefonica Deutschland was indicated to open 2.2 percent higher after it said it expected to generate 250 million euros ($283.40 million) in synergies this year from the acquisition of E-Plus.
Banking shares were set to be in focus after the Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are investigating at least 10 major banks, including HSBC, Barclays and Credit Suisse Group, for possible rigging of precious-metals markets.
Greek stocks, due to reopen at 0830 GMT after a three-day weekend, will have a chance to react to a deal, struck late on Friday, to extend the country’s financial rescue package. Athens will present its economic reform plans to the euro zone on Tuesday.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed at a seven-year high on Monday, boosted by the Greek deal, and Germany’s Dax set an all-time high.
Stronger domestic demand drove growth in Europe’s largest economy in the fourth quarter while foreign trade and gross capital investment also helped, data from Germany’s Federal Statistics Office showed on Tuesday.
Central bankers will take centre stage later in the session. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before Congress at 1500 GMT and there is much uncertainty over whether she will echo the dovish tone of the minutes from the Fed’s last meeting, or reaffirm June as a window for a first rate hike.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is due to give a speech at an event in Frankfurt at 1400 GMT.
The global miner posted a 31 percent drop in half-year profit as prices for all its main products collapsed, but beat market forecasts and flagged further belt tightening to withstand the tough conditions.
HSBC’s exposure to Greece totalled some $6 billion at the end of 2014, the British bank said on Monday, making it one of the most exposed foreign banks to the debt-laden nation, despite cutting loans there last year.
Hitachi Ltd has agreed to buy Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica’s rail and signal assets, sources close to the matter said, a deal expected to top $2 billion and give the Japanese firm a stronger foothold in Europe to compete with bigger rivals.
Indicated 4.4 pct higher
Germany’s Aixtron reported a bigger than expected quarterly operating loss on Tuesday, citing a challenging environment for companies making light emitting diode (LED) chips, who are its customers.
EU regulators aiming to build a strong energy union to weaken Russia’s market power are planning to introduce a law that will require each member state to seek EU commission approval before concluding new gas contracts, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said in an advance copy of its Tuesday edition.
Separately, BASF said it had closed its agreement with Toda Kogyo Corp for a joint venture specialising in cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries.
The airline is considering shifting some of its Embraer jets to its Austrian Airlines unit as replacements for the carrier’s ageing fleet of Fokker regional jets.
Top European truckmakers face a fine of up to 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) for operating a cartel, German daily Handelsblatt reported, citing industry sources.
Credit Agricole Chief Financial Officer Bernard Delpit has decided to leave the French bank to take up the same role at Safran, the aerospace group said.
Europe’s largest hotel group said it referred online booking rival Booking.com to the French competition authority over what it claimed was abuse of a dominant position. A Booking.com spokesman declined to comment.
BP Plc on Monday appealed a federal judge’s finding of the size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which leaves the company potentially liable to pay $13.7 billion in fines.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc is shelving plans to build a new oil sands mine in northern Alberta, the largest such project to be deferred as producers struggle with low energy prices.
Japan’s second largest wireless carrier KDDI Corporation said on Monday it plans to sell its entire 4.85 stake in satellite communications company Inmarsat in an accelerated bookbuilding process.
One of the executives suspended over Tesco’s 263 million pounds commercial scandal has been made redundant just weeks after being reinstated to his role, Sky News reported.
The building supplies group said it planned to raise its 2015 dividend to 1.27 euros a share to bring it in to line with that of Holcim in accordance with their merger deal of July last year, and to bring the payment date forward to May 8.
Earlier on Monday, Switzerland-based Holcim reported operating profit growth that outpaced that of Lafarge.
South Korea’s Lotte Group has submitted a proposal to acquire a controlling stake in Italy’s World Duty Free SpA in a deal estimated at 3 trillion to 4 trillion won ($2.7 billion - $3.6 billion), Korean media reported on Tuesday.
Mondadori has extended the validity of its offer to buy RCS’ book unit by a week to March 7 and could increase its value to 155 million euros from 135 million euros, Il Messaggero said in an unsourced report.
The head of the National Security Agency refused to comment on Monday on reports that the U.S. government implants spyware on computer hard drives for surveillance purposes, saying “we fully comply with the law.”
The oil company reported a dry hole at the Rovuma onshore licence where Anadarko is the operator.
The oil services group said it had won a contract from Total E&P UK to make and supply pipes for and other kit for the Glenlivet project west of Shetland in the North Sea.
Cities of Milan and Brescia have ended on Monday the placement of 5.1 percent stake in the regional utility, a Milan city source said.
Ends bond swap offer (1600 GMT).
The Italian car parts maker on Monday reported a drop in full-year net profit, hit by weakness in South America and costs for restructuring in Europe, and said it would not distribute a dividend to cut debt.
Spanish olive oil maker said second half net sales were 416.4 million euros versus 431.7 million euros a year earlier.
Spanish gas grid operator Said net profit inched up 0.8 percent in 2014 from a year earlier to 406.5 million euros.
Spanish sausage case maker Viscofan said on Monday that the exclusive period for Portobello Capital Gestion to buy its unit GRUPO IAN expired Jan. 31 without agreement.
Spain’s Abengoa said on Monday 2014 net income rose 24 percent to 125 million euros while confirming preliminary results presented Feb. 9.
BMO Q4 2014 Comcast Corp
AMC Q1 2015 Hewlett-Packard Co
0745 FR Business climate Feb
1000 EZ Inflation Jan
1400 US CaseShiller Dec
1445 US Markit Composite PMI Feb
1500 US Consumer confidence Feb > ASIA SHARES INCH AHEAD, HOSTAGE TO FED OUTLOOK > NASDAQ ENDS UP 9TH SESSION; S&P 500, DOW DIP WITH ENERGY > NIKKEI STEADY AS MARKET AWAITS YELLEN‘S SPEECH > BOND PRICES RISE ON RUN-UP TO YELLEN, WEAK U.S. HOME SALES > DOLLAR FIRMER VS YEN BEFORE YELLEN TESTIMONY > GOLD HOVERS NEAR 7-WEEK LOW AHEAD OF YELLEN SPEECH > LONDON COPPER DRIFTS AS CHINA HOLIDAY DRAWS TO A CLOSE > BRENT RISES ABOVE $59 ON HOPES OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY (Reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)