Europe Factors to Watch-Oil sector in focus as Shell to buy BG
PARIS, April 8 (Reuters) - European stocks were set for a mixed open on Wednesday, taking a breather from their previous day's sharp rally, while the energy sector will be in focus after Royal Dutch Shell agreed to buy BG Group for 47 billion pounds ($70 billion) in the first oil super-merger in a decade. The media sector will also be in the spotlight after sources said French media conglomerate Vivendi is looking at a possible acquisition of pay-TV group Sky, which has a market value of 17.6 billion pounds ($26 billion). At 0623 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were down 0.1 percent, for Germany's DAX up 0.1 percent, for France's CAC down 0.1 percent and for FTSE 100 up 0.7 percent. European shares rose on Tuesday, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares gaining 1.6 percent, as FedEx's 4.4 billion euro ($4.8 billion) bid for Dutch package delivery firm TNT Express prompted a rally in the shares of other postal companies. Investors also awaited the start of the U.S. earnings season, set to kick off on Wednesday with results from aluminum company Alcoa. First-quarter S&P 500 earnings are projected to have declined by 2.8 percent from a year ago - which would make the quarter the worst for results since the third quarter of 2009 - hurt by the surging dollar, falling oil prices and another severe winter. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0623 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,076.33 -0.21 % -4.29 NIKKEI 19789.81 0.76 % 149.27 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 500.3 1.25 % 6.16 EUR/USD 1.0848 0.32 % 0.0035 USD/JPY 119.86 -0.33 % -0.4000 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.876 -- -0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 0.170 -- -0.02 SPOT GOLD $1,210.10 0.16 % $1.90 US CRUDE $52.94 -1.93 % -1.04 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Japan shares hit 15yr high, BOJ stays the course > US STOCKS-Wall St ends down, dollar gains offset deal news optimism > Nikkei climbs to near 15-year high, retail fund flows support > TREASURIES-Long bond prices rise with focus on auctions this week > Dollar steps back, outlook solid on diverging monetary policy paths > Gold holds above $1,200 as case for U.S. rate hike delay builds > METALS-Shanghai nickel slides 3 pct on China construction worries > Oil down on U.S. stock build, record Saudi output COMPANY NEWS: ENERGY SECTOR Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday it had agreed to buy BG Group for 47 billion pounds ($70 billion) in the first oil super-merger in a decade. VIVENDI, SKY French media conglomerate Vivendi is looking at a possible acquisition of pay-TV group Sky, as one of several options to expand the reach of its own TV group Canal Plus, three sources familiar with the matter said. RENAULT The French government has been buying shares in French carmaker Renault SA to increase its stake to up to 19.73 percent with the aim of blocking a resolution at the next annual general meeting that could reduce its control over the company. BANCO POPOLARE Credit rating agency Fitch said on Tuesday it had affirmed the bank's long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB' with negative outlook. At the same time, Fitch has cut the lender's Viability Rating (VR) to 'bb' from 'bb+' as a result of both a very high level of impaired loans and weak internal capital generation. BOLLORE Niger and Benin signed a deal on Tuesday to finalise the terms of the construction and operation of a railway linking Niamey with the port of Cotonou, expected to be finished in the middle of next year. French firm Bollore will cover the entire 1.07 billion euro cost of building the rail link, according to the terms of the deal. SAINT-GOBAIN, SIKA The French building materials company said it has extended an agreement with the Burkard-Schenker family that would see it take control of Switzerland's Sika in order to give it time to complete the deal in the face of opposition. Saint-Gobain "is determined to go through with this transaction and is engaged in a long-term strategy. We can be patient if we need to," a spokeswoman for the group said. ROCHE The Swiss drugmaker said the European Commission has approved Avastin in combination with chemotherapy as a treatment for women with advanced cervical cancer. NATIXIS BPCE announced the closing of the disposal of its 24.5 percent interest in Volksbank Romania. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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