Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to pause; eyes on earnings
PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) - European stocks were set for a mixed open on Wednesday, pausing after both UK's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX hit record highs in the previous session, while investors combed through a flurry of corporate results. At 0730 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were down 0.06 percent to up 0.03 percent. Spain's Telefonica said it expected revenue to grow by more than 7 percent this year as it reported a 19 percent drop in 2014 operating income, while AXA, Europe's second-biggest insurer, posted a 12 percent increase in 2014 net profit on lower expenses, voicing confidence in its cost-cutting target for this year. So far in the earnings season 63 percent of STOXX 600 companies have reporting results, of which 55 percent have met or beaten profit forecasts. Overall, fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow by 19.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, which would be Europe's best season in 3-1/2 years. European stocks rallied on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it was likely to be several months before the Fed raises interest rates. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0730 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,115.48 0.28 % 5.82 NIKKEI 18585.2 -0.1 % -18.28 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 489.56 0.82 % 3.99 EUR/USD 1.1384 0.4 % 0.0045 USD/JPY 118.72 -0.21 % -0.2500 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.979 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.361 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,210.60 0.92 % $11.09 US CRUDE $49.07 -0.43 % -0.21 > GLOBAL MARKETS-SHARES UP AS YELLEN STRESSES POLICY FLEXIBILITY > US STOCKS-DOW, S&P FINISH AT RECORDS AFTER YELLEN COMMENTS > TOKYO'S NIKKEI SHARE AVERAGE CLOSES DOWN 0.10 PCT > BOND PRICES RALLY AFTER YELLEN TESTIMONY, STRONG 2-YEAR AUCTION > FOREX-DOLLAR SLIPS AS YELLEN SHOWS NO RUSH TO RAISE RATES > PRECIOUS-GOLD REBOUNDS FROM 7-WEEK LOW AS YELLEN FLAGS FLEXIBILITY > METALS-LONDON COPPER SLIPS AS CHINA RETURNS, SELLING RESUMES > BRENT INCHES UP TOWARDS $59 ON FED FLEXIBILITY, CHINA FACTORY GROWTH COMPANY NEWS: TELEFONICA Spain's Telefonica said on Wednesday it expected revenue to grow by more than 7 percent this year as it reported a 19 percent drop in 2014 operating income. The company also said it aims to raise up to 3 billion euros through a rights issue due to the acquisition of Brazil's GVT. AXA Europe's second-biggest insurer posted a 12 percent increase in 2014 net profit as cost cuts boosted earnings. BOUYGUES French conglomerate posted lower 2014 operating profit on Wednesday in the face of a stagnant domestic economy and a price war which weighed on its telecoms unit. FRESENIUS The healthcare group expects its adjusted net income to rise between 9 and 12 percent at constant currencies this year, helped by additional earnings from the purchase of new hospitals and demand for healthcare services. BANK OF PIRAEUS, EUROBANK Greek lenders Bank of Piraeus and Eurobank will drop out of the pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX benchmark, index compiler STOXX said late on Tuesday. SAFRAN The French aerospace group predicted further growth in profit this year as it posted stronger-than-expected 2014 earnings, led by sales of spare engine parts and record jet industry production rates. MORRISONS Britain's No. 4 supermarket has named former Tesco executive David Potts as its new chief executive, succeeding Dalton Philips who was ousted in January. RIO TINTO The global miner will not be taken over by rival Glencore because there is no value in it for shareholders and regulators will never let it happen, Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said. WHITBREAD The firm said it expected to post full-year profit toward the top end of market forecasts as strong demand at its Premier Inn hotels and Costa Coffee chain helped deliver a 5.8 percent rise in fourth quarter underlying sales. EURONEXT Pan-European exchange Euronext reported a 7.6 percent jump in full-year operating profit before exceptional items, thanks to lively listing activity during a year that included the initial public offering of ING Group's ING.AS insurance arm. FERROVIAL The group on Tuesday posted a 5 percent rise in 2014 core profit from a year earlier, to 983 million euros. ROYAL DUTCH SHELL The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years could spread if talks over improved safety conditions do not resume soon, United Steelworkers union (USW) International President Leo Gerard said on Tuesday. BARRATT DEVELOPMENTS The group posted a 75 percent rise in profit in the six months to end-December on Wednesday after it completed 6,971 new homes, and said its second half had started well. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT French waste and water group said 2014 group net profit rose 18.5 percent to 417 million euros ($473 million), boosted by strong margins on European water activities and its international business. VALLOUREC The French steel pipe maker unveiled a plan to cut 1,400 jobs in 2015 as a drop in demand from oil company customers following the plunge in crude prices tipped the group into a full-year net loss in 2014. FRESENIUS MEDICAL CARE The kidney dialysis specialist said net income could be flat this year but would grow again in 2016, as it cuts costs to counter pressure in the United States on reimbursement for dialysis treatments. TSB The new British bank said its full-year pretax profit rose 2.3 percent, as the number of new accounts increased. ATOS PAI Partners, a Paris-based private equity firm, is selling a 9 percent stake in French IT services firm Atos via a share placement, traders said on Wednesday. VALEO The French auto parts maker pledged a further improvement in profitability after exceeding its targets last year thanks to strong demand for emissions-cutting technologies. ROCHE British doctors called on Tuesday for Roche's cancer drug Avastin to be made routinely available as a cheap alternative for treating people with a debilitating eye disorder. AREVA A capital increase for the French nuclear group is not a priority, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Reuters, also ruling out selling state-held shares in utilities EDF and GDF Suez to finance support for the group. COMMERZBANK German prosecutors have launched an investigation into Commerzbank and its clients in connection with suspected tax evasion involving accounts in Luxembourg. CREDIT AGRICOLE The bank said Philippe Brassac, a senior executive at its network of regional mutuals, would become chief executive after Jean-Paul Chifflet's steps down in May. ASTRAZENECA Astrazeneca has boosted its early-stage research in autoimmune disease by signing a three-year research deal with start-up firm Orca Pharmaceuticals, a small British biotech company formed in 2013, on a new class of drugs. EXOR Italy's Agnelli family, which controls Cushman & Wakefield Inc, is putting the world's third-largest real estate company up for sale, the Wall Street Journal reported, quoting people familiar with the matter. Exor, the Agnelli family's holding company, has hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to find a buyer, the WSJ said. FINMECCANICA Italian aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica has agreed to sell its rail business to Hitachi Ltd 6501.T in a deal which will cost the Japanese conglomerate up to 1.9 billion euros and cut Finmeccanica's debt by 15 percent. The CEO said earnings guidance would rise as a result. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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