Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to track Wall St rally
PARIS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Friday, tracking a rally on Wall Street where robust U.S. factory activity data eclipsed recent soft macro figures, although gains could be limited by mixed corporate results. At 0726 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were 0.2-0.5 percent. Wall Street's S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent on Thursday, lifted by Markit's preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, which shows factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly four years in February, a bullish economic indicator following a string of weaker-than-expected reports. "Despite hesitation and mixed closes in Europe yesterday, a bullish close in the U.S. fed through into sentiment in Asia and we are expecting a positive handover on the open," Capital Spreads trader Jonathan Sudaria wrote in a note. On the earnings front in Europe, Europe's No. 2 insurer AXA posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, while Kering, owner of Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Gucci brands, posted a sharply lower full-year profit. Despite the soft results from the two French blue-chips, data shows the earnings season in Europe has been relatively positive so far. About 60 percent of STOXX 600 companies have reported results so far in the earnings season, of which 59 percent have met or beaten profit forecasts, with net profits rising 1.2 percent year-over-year on average, Thomson Reuters Starmine data shows. Overall, investors remained positive on European stocks, with data showing further brisk inflows into the region. A poll by Thomson Reuters Lipper of 102 U.S.-based funds invested in European equities, which include exchange-traded funds' (ETFs) holdings, shows the funds added $502 million into European equities in the seven-day period to Feb. 19, a 34th straight week of net inflows - marking the longest streak of weekly inflows since Lipper started to monitor flows in 1992. So far this year, U.S.-based funds have added about $4.6 billion into European equities. Europe bourses in 2014:Asset performance in 2014:------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0727 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,839.78 0.6 % 11.03 NIKKEI 14,865.67 2.88 % 416.49 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 459.54 0.71 % 3.23 EUR/USD 1.3712 -0.04 % -0.0006 USD/JPY 102.51 0.24 % 0.2500 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.759 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.690 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,319.10 -0.26 % -$3.41 US CRUDE $102.62 -0.13 % -0.13 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares up U.S. optimism but EM concerns remain > US STOCKS-Wall St rises on factory data; Tesla and Facebook jump > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes up 2.88 pct > FOREX-Dollar steady, finds footing after upbeat U.S. data > PRECIOUS-Gold set to finish near flat for the week > METALS-LME copper struggles on China growth concerns > Brent steadies above $110 on Africa supply cuts COMPANY NEWS: KERING Italian luxury brand Gucci continued to see its sales growth slow in the fourth quarter as parent Kering, also owner of Yves Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, posted sharply lower full-year profits, hit by restructuring charges. AXA Europe's No. 2 insurer said its 2013 net income rose 14 percent at constant exchange rates, helped by stronger growth in its life, and property and casualty businesses, as well as a recovery in asset management. REPSOL Argentina and Repsol will sign a definitive $5 billion settlement over the seizure of YPF YPFD.BA within days, a source involved in the talks said on Thursday, ending a bitter two-year bilateral dispute. SACYR Spanish-led consortium has resumed expansion work on the Panama Canal, a source close to negotiations. BBVA Spanish bank BBVA said on Thursday it had bought U.S.-based digital banking firm Simple in a deal that values the company at $117 million. MERCK KGAA The diversified drugs and chemicals group is ready to pursue a takeover worth billions to boost its medicines unit even after making an offer for AZ Electronic Materials, its Chief Executive Karl-Ludwig Kley was quoted as saying by daily Handelsblatt. ALLIANZ Allianz's German operations have underperformed competitors over the last five years, credit rating agency Moody's said, arguing that the insurer's pricing power has been limited by fierce competition and price wars. SGL GROUP The carbon specialist said it expected a net loss of almost 400 million euros ($548.50 million) for 2013 and would not pay a dividend for the year, citing weakness at its main graphite electrodes business. CARIGE The group said on Thursday it was planning a capital increase of about 800 million euros. ERAMET The French mining and metals group posted a full-year loss on Friday after being hit by low nickel prices but said it was confident in the outlook for the nickel market. CLUB MED The holiday company posted a 4.3 percent rise in first-quarter revenue at constant exchange rates to 344 million euros. Winter bookings are up 3.1 percent at constant exchange rates as growth in Asia and the Americas offsets a significant decline in Europe and Africa. VALEO The French auto supplier said profit rose 40 percent in the second half of 2013 as a European car sales upturn and increased spending on fuel-saving technologies lifted revenue. L'OREAL The French cosmetics maker still has the firepower to pursue acquisitions even after spending 6.5 billion euros to buy back 8 percent of its shares from Nestle, a senior executive said.
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