Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to rise after Fed minutes
PARIS, April 10 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen rising on Thursday, mirroring gains in global shares after minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting suggested the central bank may be more cautious towards raising rates than investors had anticipated. French blue-chips Carrefour and LVMH will be in focus after releasing quarterly sales figures. Carrefour, the world's second biggest retailer, said sales rose 3.7 percent, broadly in line with analyst expectations, helped by strong growth in Brazil, while Louis Vuitton owner LVMH said sales at its fashion and leather division rose 9 percent, beating analysts' expectations. "(LVMH's) trading statement highlights further acceleration in Fashion & Leather/Vuitton, a very positive outcome in a context of weak trends as seen or expected at soft luxury peers - Prada, Gucci brand, Hugo Boss, Tod's. This should be sufficient to support the shares near-term," Citi analysts wrote in a note. At 0630 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.4 percent. The Fed's minutes, released on Wednesday, fuelled a rally on Wall Street with all three major U.S. stock indexes ending up more than 1 percent, and weighed on the dollar. The market pushed out expectations of a first Fed rate hike by about six weeks, to July 2015, trading in interest-rate futures showed. However, the market's overall gains on Thursday could be limited after data showed China's exports unexpectedly fell for the second straight month in March and import growth dropped sharply, adding to worries about slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy. Exports fell 6.6 percent in March from a year earlier, following an 18.1 percent slide in February, the Customs Administration said on Thursday. It was the first time exports have fallen for two months in a row since 2009. UK stocks, particularly exposed to the Chinese economy, could underperform. Analysts have been steadily slashing profit forecasts for UK companies lately, with negative earnings revisions reaching levels last seen in 2009 during the heat of the global financial crisis. Chart on earnings revisions: link.reuters.com/tyc48v Greek equities will be in the spotlight after a car bomb went off outside a Bank of Greece building in central Athens early on Thursday, smashing windows in nearby shops but causing no injuries. The Athens stock exchange may also be boosted by the fact that Greece is set to issue its first sovereign bond in almost four years on Thursday. Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v) Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0631 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,872.18 1.09 % 20.22 NIKKEI 14,300.12 0 % 0.43 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 485.5 0.64 % 3.08 EUR/USD 1.3841 -0.1 % -0.0014 USD/JPY 101.74 -0.23 % -0.2300 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.674 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.546 -- -0.03 SPOT GOLD $1,317.06 0.43 % $5.66 US CRUDE $103.35 -0.24 % -0.25 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares up on Fed mins, unfazed by China exports > US STOCKS-Wall St soars after Fed minutes signal support > Nikkei up after Fed minutes ease rate hike concerns, Toyota falters > FOREX-Dollar stung by Fed minutes, Aussie rises on solid jobs data > PRECIOUS-Gold extends gains to 3rd day as rate hike fears ease > METALS-London nickel stretches to fresh one year high > Brent dips towards $107 on weak China trade data COMPANY NEWS: CARREFOUR Europe's biggest retailer said first-quarter like-for-like sales rose 3.7 percent, broadly in line with analyst expectations, with sales in austerity-hit Spain growing for the second consecutive quarter while those at French hypermarkets slowed. LVMH The world's biggest luxury group said comparable sales at its fashion and leather division rose 9 percent in the three months to March 31, beating analysts' expectations of a 5-7 percent rise. BANKIA, IBERDROLA Spain's biggest state-owned lender Bankia said on Wednesday it had given UBS and Citigroup a mandate to sell its entire 4.94 percent holding in Spanish utility Iberdrola, one of its last remaining corporate stakes. SOLVAY Belgian chemicals group said on Thursday it had agreed to sell its European PVC compound business Benvic Europe to U.S. investment firm Open Gate Capital. ALLIANZ The Pimco Total Return Fund, the world's largest bond fund, cut its holdings of U.S. government-related securities and mortgages for the second straight month in March. DEUTSCHE BANK The bank is considering raised base salaries for its management board members by more than a third, but reducing bonuses, Die Welt reported, citing sources close to the company. VOLKSWAGEN Volkswagen said on Wednesday it will stop selling about 27,000 current model year Jettas, Beetles, Beetle Convertibles and Passats with 1.8-liter engines and automatic transmissions in North America because transmission oil may leak. TELECOM ITALIA MEDIA, L'ESPRESSO The broadcaster and the publisher said on Wednesday they had signed a deal to merge their digital broadcasting activities, creating a company with solid cash flow and annual revenues of 100 million euros. TRYG The Nordic region's second-biggest general insurer, posted first-quarter earnings below expectations due to lower investment return, but maintained its financial targets. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Anand Basu and Sudip Kar-Gupta)
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