European Factors to Watch-Shares set to resume rally
PARIS, April 9 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Thursday, resuming their rally helped by a recent batch of merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, with the auto sector eyed after data showed Western European auto sales rose 10.7 percent last month. Robust German data also lifted the mood, with the country's seasonally-adjusted exports rising 1.5 percent on the month after dipping by 2.1 percent in January. At 0751 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.3 percent. According to industry figures published late on Wednesday, the auto sector's recovery broadened to France, while Spain, Italy and Portugal recorded double-digit sales growth again as they recover from a steep demand collapse following the 2008 financial crisis. Investors were also digesting minutes from a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting which indicated that the central bank remained on track for a interest rate hike this year. "The minutes did show us that members were split three ways between a potential lift off in June, and a lift off in September with at least two favouring a delay until 2016, which suggests that the consensus needed for a change in policy still remains some way off," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, wrote in a note. Kicking off the U.S. earnings season on Wednesday, Alcoa Inc swung to a profit in the first quarter, beating market expectations, but its revenue lagged analysts' estimates, sending its shares down more than 3 percent in after-market trading. 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 0651 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,081.90 0.27 % 5.57 NIKKEI 19937.72 0.75 % 147.91 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 506.68 0.75 % 3.76 EUR/USD 1.0765 -0.13 % -0.0014 USD/JPY 120.24 0.1 % 0.1200 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.904 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.167 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,195.00 -0.62 % -$7.40 US CRUDE $50.95 1.05 % 0.53 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks up, dollar supported by Fed minutes > US STOCKS-Wall St ends with modest gains after Fed minutes > Nikkei rises to 15-year high on foreign buying hopes; 20,000 in sight > Short-term yields rise as Fed on track to raise rates this year > FOREX-Dollar extends gains as hawks hear hike in Fed talk > PRECIOUS-Gold falls on renewed bets for U.S. rate rise in June > METALS-Aluminium drops on prospect of cheaper power in China > Oil edges back from 6 pct fall, but outlook weak COMPANY NEWS: AUTOMAKERS Western European auto sales rose 10.7 percent in March as a regional recovery broadened to France, according to industry data published on Wednesday, with Spain, Italy and Portugal still recording double-digit sales growth as they recover from a steep demand collapse following the 2008 financial crisis. BAYER, SYNGENTA Evidence is mounting that widely-used pesticides harm moths, butterflies and birds as well as bees, adding to concerns crop production could be hit by a shortage of pollinators, according to a report drawn up for EU policymakers. The makers most affected include Bayer CropScience and Syngenta. LAFARGE, HOLCIM Lafarge and Holcim have appointed long-time Lafarge executive Eric Olsen as the chief executive of their combined company once their merger is completed, the two groups said in a statement on Thursday. VIVENDI The French media group reached a deal with activist U.S. hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management (PSAM) to increase payouts to investors, heading off a conflict ahead of its shareholder meeting later this month. TRANSMODE U.S. network gear maker Infinera said on Thursday it was offering to buy Transmode for about 3 billion Swedish crowns ($345 mln) in cash and shares in a bid to acquire optical network technology and broaden its geographic presence. CHR. HANSEN The firm's second-quarter operating profit beat analysts' expectations, and the Danish food ingredients maker stuck to its outlook for the full year. AIRBUS The airplane maker plans to offer airlines more choice in the way they configure their planes, and sees carriers opting for different levels of comfort within their economy cabins, a senior Airbus executive said on Wednesday. AREVA Parts of the Taishan 1 and 2 nuclear reactors under construction in China were made by the same manufacturer that supplied the reactor vessel of EDF's EPR in Normandy where anomalies were found, French nuclear watchdog ASN said. BNP PARIBAS French prosecutors said they were dropping an inquiry into alleged insider trading by several executives at French bank BNP Paribas after finding no signs of wrongdoing. DASSAULT AVIATION India and France should be able to make progress in talks over the purchase of Rafale fighter jets, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro. KLEPIERRE The shopping mall operator said it issued an eight-year, 750 million euro bond maturing April 17, 2023. Klepierre also launched a tender offer for cash on a 500 million euro bond issued by Corio N.V. maturing in January 2018. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
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