Europe Factors to Watch-ECB, earnings set to push Europe stocks higher
PARIS, March 5 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Thursday, with a batch of company results in focus ahead of the European Central bank meeting at which it is set to give further details on its massive bond-buying programme. Shares in Carrefour will be eyed after the world's second-largest retailer said it would boost capital expenditure this year as it seeks to cement a revival of its European hypermarkets and expand in the key emerging market of Brazil. At 0740 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.2-0.5 percent. The ECB, which starts its quantitative easing, or bond-buying, programme worth more than 1 trillion euros this month, is expected to detail the plan later in the day following its policy meeting. The bank is also set to keep rates on hold, likely lift growth forecasts to reflect a string of positive data surprises, but cut inflation projections as it incorporates the full effect of a dramatic oil price fall. European stocks have strongly rallied since the start of the year, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index up 14 percent in 2015, boosted by the prospect of QE. The pharma sector will be in the spotlight on Thursday after drugmaker AbbVie Inc said it will buy Pharmacyclics Inc, the maker of blockbuster cancer drug Imbruvica, for about $21 billion to broaden its oncology drugs pipeline. On the macro front, data showed on Thursday German industrial orders fell far more than forecast in January, posting their largest drop since August, data showed on Thursday, casting a shadow over what had previously looked like a strong start to 2015 for Europe's largest economy. China announced an economic growth target for 2015 of around 7 percent and said it would boost government spending, signalling that the lowest rate of expansion for a quarter of a century is the "new normal" for the world's No.2 economy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0740 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,098.53 -0.44 % -9.25 NIKKEI 18751.84 0.26 % 48.24 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 484.07 -0.45 % -2.17 EUR/USD 1.1046 -0.28 % -0.0031 USD/JPY 119.82 0.14 % 0.1700 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.117 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 0.381 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,200.55 0.09 % $1.10 US CRUDE $51.73 0.39 % 0.20 > GLOBAL MARKETS-ASIA STOCKS SLIP, EURO HITS 11-YR LOW BEFORE ECB > US STOCKS-WALL STREET DOWN FOR 2ND DAY AFTER RALLY; HEALTHCARE GAINS > NIKKEI EDGES UP, BOJ'S ETF BUYING HELPS SENTIMENT > BOND PRICES MOSTLY FLAT ON MIXED DATA AHEAD OF U.S. JOBS REPORT > EURO HOVERS NEAR 11-YR LOW, WAITING DETAILS OF ECB EASING PROGRAMME > PRECIOUS-GOLD RISES ABOVE $1,200, BUT ROBUST DOLLAR CURBS GAINS > METALS-COPPER HOLDS STEADY AFTER CHINA REFORM PACKAGE RELEASED > BRENT STICKS ABOVE $60; IRAN NEWS OFFSETS BEARISH US STOCKPILES DATA COMPANY NEWS: CARREFOUR The world's second-largest retailer, said it would boost capital expenditure this year as it seeks to cement a revival of its European hypermarkets and expand in the key emerging market of Brazil. SCHRODERS The company reported a 16 percent jump in pretax profits for 2014 to 517.1 million pounds ($787.28 million), boosted by 24.8 billion in net inflows. LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE GROUP The LSE reported a 19 percent jump in adjusted full-year pretax profit, helped by a flurry of stock market listings last year, its busiest for initial public offerings in seven years. AGGREKO The company says: Total dividend 27.12 pence per share, final dividend 17.74 pence per share, encouraging start to 2015. Expects underlying trading profit to be broadly in line with last year. SCOR The reinsurer posted a higher-than-expected 40 percent increase in full-year net income to 512 million euros and proposed paying an 8 percent higher dividend. FRIENDS LIFE The company reported a 38 percent rise in pre-tak profits. AVIVA The insurer reported a 6 percent rise in 2014 operating profit, in line with market expectations, and warned it had more work to do to complete a turnaround in its performance. ADMIRAL GROUP - The company announced a strong annual result with group profit before tax of 357 million pounds ($543.53 million) for the year to December 2014. BETFAIR - Online gambling company Betfair hiked its full-year profit forecast range after it said trading had remained strong following a better-than-expected third-quarter performance. GEMALTO NV The SIM card maker reported a 10 percent jump in quarterly profit and raised its long-term target for profit from operations, helped by its acquisition of SafeNet. KLOECKNER & CO The German steel distributor said it expected core profit to rise in 2015 even after a tough first quarter afflicted by steep declines in U.S. steel prices and other factors. DELHAIZE Belgian supermarket operator Delhaize reported better-than-expected operating results in the fourth quarter, as its margins in Belgium improved from the previous quarter in spite of hefty sales declines. SANDVIK Swedish industrial group said on Thursday it would cut more costs in response to weak demand in some markets and make a write-down in its Mining Systems business, as it detailed the second phase of a group-wide restructuring program. JCDECAUX Outdoor advertising specialist said it planned to buy back up to 500 million euros of shares and proposed a higher dividend as it reported full-year net income more than doubled. RTL European broadcaster reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, helped by growing advertising revenue in its most important market Germany. BANCA MONTE DEI PASCHI DI SIENA The Tuscan bank said on Wednesday that at current share price levels the country's Treasury would get a stake of around 4 percent in the bank when it receives new shares as payment for a coupon on state loans. MONCLER The luxury down jacket maker posted a 21 percent rise in 2014 operating profit as 37 new shop openings in the course of the year helped push sales higher. ITALCEMENTI The cement maker nearly halved its net loss in 2014 to 48.9 million euros and proposed a dividend payout of 0.09 euros. AIRBUS Germany has reached an agreement with Airbus on the payment of the remaining 623 million euros of its loan to the company for the development of the A350 wide-bodied airliner. BANKIA, FCC, REALIA Bankia said late Wednesday it would sell its stake in Realia to Carlos Slim's Carso Inmobiliaria, pre-empting a full takeover offer from Slim for Realia at 0.58 euros per share. This is a discount of nearly one third to Wednesday's closing price. SWATCH Swatch is to appeal a decision on Wednesday by a Dutch court to set aside a 402 million Swiss franc ($416.67 million) arbitration ruling in 2013 against U.S. jeweller Tiffany. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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