Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to extend rally, helped by earnings
PARIS, March 12 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Thursday, shrugging off a dip on Wall Street and extending their sharp gains made in the previous session, as investors expected a batch of corporate results from blue-chips including Volkswagen and Generali. Generali, Italy's biggest insurer, lifted its dividend even as it reported a 12.5 percent fall in net profit due to one-off charges. French telecoms group Iliad pledged to raise operating profit by 10 percent this year after it reached 15 percent share in mobile three years after shaking up the market with low-cost, no-contract plans. As Europe's earnings season draws to an end, companies have reported a 15.9 percent rise in quarterly profits - the biggest rise in European earnings since mid-2011 and well ahead of a 6.8 percent rise in U.S. quarterly profits - according to Thomson Reuters Starmine, as European firms start to reap the benefits from a lower euro currency. At 0728 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.1-0.3 percent. Greece remained at the forefront of investors' minds. Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said the European Central Bank is pursuing a restrictive policy on Greece to pressure Athens and its official lenders to agree to a path that will lead the country out of its crisis. European shares bounced back on Wednesday from a sharp sell-off in the previous session, as a drop in the value of the euro lifted stocks in the region's exporters and sent the German market to a record high. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0728 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,040.24 -0.19 % -3.92 NIKKEI 18991.11 1.43 % 267.59 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 474.07 0.79 % 3.7 EUR/USD 1.0595 0.47 % 0.0050 USD/JPY 121.22 -0.18 % -0.2200 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.109 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 0.210 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,164.16 0.88 % $10.11 US CRUDE $48.51 0.71 % 0.34 > GLOBAL MARKETS-ASIAN SHARES RISE AS SOUTH KOREA CUTS RATES > WALL ST FALLS ON RATE CONCERNS; CITI UP AFTER THE BELL > TOKYO'S NIKKEI SHARE AVERAGE CLOSES UP 1.43 PCT > TREASURIES-RALLY GOES ON AFTER STRONG FOREIGN AUCTION BID > EURO CONTINUES TO PROBE 12-YEAR LOWS, U.S. DATA AWAITED FOR CUES > DOLLAR'S STRENGTH SENDS GOLD TUMBLING FOR NINTH DAY > METALS-LONDON COPPER STEADY AS SUPPLY CONCERNS OFFSET ROBUST DOLLAR > BRENT CLIMBS TOWARDS $58 ON CONTRACT COVERING, GEOPOLITICAL TENSION COMPANY NEWS: ILIAD French telecoms group Iliad pledged to raise operating profit by 10 percent this year after it reached 15 percent share in mobile three years after shaking up the market with low-cost, no-contract plans. MORRISONS Annual profit at Britain's fourth biggest grocer slumped 52 percent to an eight-year low, damaged by last year's strategic decision to slash prices to stem the loss of shoppers to discounters Aldi. GENERALI Italy's biggest insurer Generali lifted its dividend on Thursday even as it reported a 12.5 percent fall in net profit due to one-off charges. HUGO BOSS The German fashion house on Thursday scrapped its sales target for 2015 due to slower luxury spending in Europe and China. BOSKALIS Dutch marine engineering company beat consensus net profit forecasts for 2014, helped by 200 million euros of exceptional items including cancellation and rescheduling fees, the firm said on Thursday. DEUTSCHE BANK, SANTANDER The U.S. units of two foreign banks, Deutsche Bank and Santander, saw their capital plans rejected wholesale on so-called "qualitative grounds" by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, indicating that the Fed doubts the lenders' grip on internal data and ability to run robust risk control systems. LUFTHANSA The airline said it expected ticket prices to fall further in 2015 and that it could not let up on cost-cutting measures, even though it faces more strikes from its pilots. K+S The potash miner said it expected a significant gain in earnings this year, helped by a recovery in potash prices and by a strong U.S. dollar boosting the value of overseas sales. VINCI, EIFFAGE A deal ending a long-running dispute between toll road operators and the French government is not imminent, sources close to the matter said on Wednesday. AIRBUS Airbus Helicopters AIR.PA is in the final stages of talks that could land it a contract worth at least $3 billion for the development and production of military and civil helicopters in South Korea, French media said on Wednesday. LAFARGE, HOLCIM Swiss company Holcim and French cement group Lafarge are in talks to renegotiate the terms of their 41 billion euro merger after a divergence in the value of the two companies over the past year, the Financial Times reported. LAGARDERE French media and distribution group Lagardere reported recurring operating profit up 4.7 percent to 342 million euros ($361.32 million) in 2014 and predicted that it would rise by about 5 percent this year. BNP PARIBAS Michel Pebereau, one of the elder statesmen of French finance, will stand down from the BNP Paribas's board when his mandate expires in May, the bank said on Wednesday. TOTAL French oil major Total is selling its stake in the North Sea Laggan-Tormore oil and gas field as it seeks to shed assets after a steep fall in the oil price, banking sources said. ITALIAN BANKS Italian banking foundations will not be able to invest more than a third of their assets in a single lender, take on debts or enter derivative trades, the treasury said on Wednesday. WORLD DUTY FREE The Italian travel retailer reported on Wednesday a 19.5 percent rise in sales in the first eight weeks of 2015 after a 15.8 percent increase in 2014 to meet its own target of 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion). RCS MEDIAGROUP The Italian publisher said on Wednesday its full-year net loss halved to 110.8 million euros ($117 million) in 2014 from 218.5 million the previous year, helped by higher margins across its businesses. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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