Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to pause from multi-year highs
PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to open steady on Friday, taking a breather from their sharp two-month rally that has propelled regional indexes to 7-year highs, with BASF in focus after posting forecast-beating results. Quarterly operating earnings at the world's largest chemicals company rose a better-than-expected 2.8 percent, as strong farming pesticides and basic petrochemicals businesses offset the hit from lower crude prices on its oil and gas division. Airbus will also be in focus after the group took a charge of 551 million euros ($618 million) due to latest delays on the A400M military transporter and adjusted civil production rates as it posted higher revenue and core profit. About two-third into Europe's earnings season, 55 percent of companies have met or beaten analyst forecasts. Fourth-quarter earnings are set to grow 14.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, which would be Europe's best earnings season in 3-1/2 years. At 0730 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were flat to down 0.2 percent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0730 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,110.74 -0.15 % -3.12 NIKKEI 18797.94 0.06 % 12.15 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 488.15 -0.11 % -0.55 EUR/USD 1.1212 0.14 % 0.0016 USD/JPY 119.30 -0.09 % -0.1100 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.019 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.310 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,210.25 0.16 % $1.95 US CRUDE $49.12 1.97 % 0.95 > GLOBAL MARKETS-OIL'S DROP CHILLS ASIAN STOCKS > US STOCKS-NASDAQ RESUMES CLIMB; S&P 500, DOW FALL WITH ENERGY > TOKYO'S NIKKEI SHARE AVERAGE CLOSES UP 0.06 PCT > TREASURIES-BOND PRICES DIP ON HIGHER JAN CORE CPI, WEAK 7-YR AUCTION > FOREX-DOLLAR PAUSES AFTER RALLYING ON U.S. DATA, FED REMARKS > GOLD HOLDS UP ON CHINESE DEMAND, SET TO SNAP 4-WEEK LOSING RUN > COPPER NEARS $6,000, EYES BIGGEST MONTHLY GAIN SINCE SEPT 2012 > BRENT RISES ABOVE $61, SET FOR BIGGEST MONTHLY GAIN SINCE 2009 COMPANY NEWS: AIRBUS Europe's Airbus Group took a charge of 551 million euros ($618 million) due to latest delays on the A400M military transporter and adjusted civil production rates as it posted higher revenue and core profit on Friday. Airbus also said it would cut the production rate of its A330 widebody jet to six a month from the first quarter of 2016 as it also ramps up production of its top-selling A320 family. PEARSON British publisher reported an as expected 5 percent rise in 2014 underlying adjusted operating profit and reiterated its pledge to return to earnings growth in 2015 as two years of painful restructuring come to an end. LLOYDS BANKING GROUP Lloyds has reported its first dividend since its bailout during the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 at a cost of 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) to taxpayers. IAG British Airways-owner International Airlines Group upgraded its profit forecast for 2015 by over 20 percent, after reporting a slightly better than expected 81 percent jump in profit last year. OLD MUTUAL Anglo-South African financial services firm said on Friday its operating profit for 2014 rose 16 percent to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.47 billion), just above analysts' expectations. RENTOKIL INITIAL British support services firm said it was confident for the year ahead but cautioned some parts of Europe remained challenging, after it posted a 58.4 percent rise in underlying full-year pretax profit. ERSTE GROUP BANK Erste started well in 2015 and has a chance to make money in all its markets in the years ahead, Chief Executive Andreas Treichl said in a YouTube video released along with preliminary 2014 results. DRUGMAKER ASTRAZENECA The firm has decided to carve out its early-stage antibiotic research by creating a stand-alone subsidiary company, as it sharpens its focus on other therapy areas. SALZGITTER The German steelmaker narrowed its pretax loss to 15 million euros ($17 million) in 2014 thanks to a deep cost-cutting programme and forecast a pretax profit in the low double-digit millions of euros for 2015 on Friday. UCB Belgian pharmaceutical company forecast improved income in 2015 on Friday based on continued growth of its three newer drugs, although its profit outlook is not as bullish as that of the market. RAIFFEISEN BANK The Austrian lender said on Friday it would close its branches in Russia's far east after finding that the network offered little income and had few opportunities for growth. TELECOM ITALIA Italy's cabinet will examine a plan worth 5-6 billion euros ($5.6-6.7 billion) to speed up the roll-out of broadband networks across the country at a meeting on March 3, two sources close to the matter said on Thursday. ITALIAN BANKS Italy's government is under pressure from banks and their allies in parliament to water down a landmark reform of large cooperative banks, which the lenders fear will make them prey to foreign rivals and speculative investors. ROYAL DUTCH SHELL The United Steelworkers union (USW) and representatives for several U.S. refineries discussed on Thursday a possible resumption of face-to-face negotiations to settle a 26-day strike, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters. RIO TINTO Rio Tinto said on Friday that in its latest moves to slash costs in response to weak commodity prices it was letting go its energy chief, rolling its coal and uranium businesses into two other units and cutting some other corporate jobs. BARCLAYS The bank's' decision to substantially increase its provision for forex fines indicated that a deal could be announced within weeks, Sky News reported late on Thursday. FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES Fiat Chrysler has agreed to give permanent contracts to hundreds of new hires at its Melfi plant in southern Italy currently on short-term agreements, a union said on Thursday, in an early boost for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's labour reforms. SACYR The builder said it expected double digit growth in sales and profit this year in a conference call to accompany year results after market close on Thursday. ACCIONA The energy company returned to profit in 2014, it reported after market close on Thursday. JAZZTEL The telecoms company reported 2014 core profits up 17 percent after market close on Thursday. NOVARTIS The Japanese unit of Novartis AG said on Friday it was ordered by Japan's health ministry to halt manufacturing and sales of non-OTC drugs from March 5 to 19. BOLLORE, HAVAS French industrial conglomerate Bollore said it had increased its stake in Paris-based advertising company Havas by 82.5 percent following a public exchange offer. BONGRAIN The French manufacturer of dairy products said full-year net income fell to 39.1 million euros from 48.9 million a year earlier even as revenue rose 9.6 percent to 4.61 billion euros. GROUPE FNAC The French retailer said net income more than doubled to 41 million euros in 2014. JCDECAUX The French outdoor advertising concessions operator said it won the seven-year advertising contract for the Helsinki City Transport network. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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