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LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - European shares were set to fall for a second straight day on Tuesday, with a sharp drop in industrial metals prices following poor trade data from China, the world's top metals consumer, seen putting pressure on the mining sector.
China's February trade performance was far worse than economists had expected, with exports tumbling the most in over six years, days after top leaders sought to reassure investors that the outlook for the world's second-largest economy remains solid.
Exports fell 25.4 percent from a year earlier, twice as much as markets had feared as demand skidded in all of China's major markets, while imports slumped 13.8 percent, the 16th straight month of decline.
Futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX , France's CAC and Britain's FTSE were all down by between 0.7 and 0.8 percent.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which reached one-month highs on Friday after three straight weeks of gains, closed 0.3 percent lower in the previous session.
German drugs and chemicals maker Merck KGaA raised the prospect of an increase of more than 10 percent in adjusted core earnings this year, expecting additional profit from the takeover of lab supplies maker Sigma-Aldrich to offset higher expenses on drug development.
Germany's second-largest utility said it would radically restructure its British unit npower in a response to widening losses and a rapid outflow of customers that are increasingly switching to cheaper rivals.
Advertising group WPP said on Tuesday its like-for-like revenue and net sales grew "well over 3 percent" in February, according to initial figures requested by investors when it reported full-year numbers last week.
Dialog said it expected its gross margin to remain broadly in line with that achieved in 2015 after reporting underlying EBITDA rose 33 percent to $359.5 million.
Symrise posted a 23 percent rise in EBITDA and said it planned to an EBITDA margin of between 19 percent to 22 percent by end 2020.
The French utility should restore its profitability with cost savings rather than by increasing retail power prices, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said.
The Swiss private bank said its New York-based money manager Rajiv Jain is leaving after more than two decades and that it has named Matthew Benkendorf as CIO of its Quality Growth Boutique to replace him.
BHP Billiton on Tuesday warned of a continued oversupply in global iron ore markets in coming years that would keep up pressure on smaller suppliers to the global sea-traded market.
Rio Tinto on Tuesday said new iron ore supply hitting the market in 2016 will fall by nearly a third to 75 million tonnes versus last year.
A mystery investor has bought up a stake of nearly 5 percent in luxury fashion brand Burberry Plc, the Financial Times reported.
The prospectus for ChemChina's takeover of the Swiss chemical company with details of its $465 per share offer, plus dividends totaling 16 Swiss francs ($16.11), was released by Credit Suisse. For more click
JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have placed for the consortium they lead 700 million shares in Saipem at a final price of 0.39 euros, sources said on Monday.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said on Monday it will extend the shutdown of its midsize Chrysler 200 sedan plant by three weeks, keeping it idled for a total of nine weeks.
CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd said it had "fruitful" talks with EU regulators at a hearing on Monday aimed at dispelling antitrust concerns over its plan to become the top UK mobile operator by buying Telefonica's O2 unit. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)