European Factors to Watch-Shares seen steady, focus on elections
(Adds futures prices, company news) LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - European shares are expected to open steady on Friday, with investors seen avoiding strong bets ahead of Ukrainian and European election results. At 0625 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were flat to 0.09 percent lower. Investors will keep a close eye on Ukraine, where more than a dozen servicemen were reported killed on Thursday in a clash with pro-Russian separatists, fuelling security concerns ahead of Sunday's presidential election, seen as crucial for its fragile democracy. "Fears are that a presidential election will merely polarise the two sides and could be a trigger for an escalation of fighting," Jonathan Sudaria, dealer at Capital Spreads, said. "With the (European Union) voting already under way, concerns are brewing that the corridors of power in Brussels could be full of eurosceptic, anti-establishment parliamentarians." The EU's marathon parliamentary election kicked off on Thursday when Britain and the Netherlands voted, with right-wing, anti-EU parties expected to attract a surge of protest votes in many countries on a low turnout. Analysts said there were concerns the EU elections could destabilise some euro zone governments at home. In Italy, for example, a poor result for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's party could weaken his drive for swift reforms that he promised when he took power. Italian and Spanish stocks underperformed firmer equity markets elsewhere in Europe on Thursday on caution ahead of the EU election results. Italy's FTSE MIB closed down 1.1 percent, while Spain's IBEX fell 0.1 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, edged up 0.1 percent to 1,366.29 points - in sight of a six-year high of 1,372.81 points set last week. Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v) Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0526 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,892.49 0.24 % 4.46 NIKKEI 14462.17 0.87 % 124.38 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 488 0.16 % 0.79 EUR/USD 1.3644 -0.07 % -0.0010 USD/JPY 101.63 -0.09 % -0.0900 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.548 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.411 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,293.90 0.03 % $0.40 US CRUDE $103.82 0.08 % 0.08 > Asian shares scale 1-yr highs on hopeful global economic signs > Wall St rises as small-caps rally; HP shares off late > Nikkei rallies to 1-month high on China, U.S. optimism > Bond prices edge lower on stronger U.S. housing, factory data > Dollar better bid after data, euro hobbled by rate cut view > Palladium poised for best week in 2 months on supply fears > LME copper flat, nickel eyes 3.5 pct weekly gain > Brent steady above $110 as economic growth, Libya support COMPANY NEWS ASTRAZENECA BlackRock Inc, AstraZeneca Plc's largest shareholder, wants the drugmaker to resume talks with Pfizer Inc about a potential sale eventually, but backs its decision this week to reject Pfizer's current bid, according to two people familiar with the matter. SIEMENS, ALSTOM General Electric Co has agreed to extend its $16.9 billion bid for the power arm of France's Alstom until June 23 from June 2 at the request of the French government, the U.S. company said on Thursday. BASF The world's top chemicals firm by sales said it would not allow the Ukraine crisis to jeopardise its business in Russia or its partnership with state-controlled gas producer Gazprom, describing the standoff as isolated. DAIMLER, VW, BMW New-car sales in the United States are expected to rise more than 7 percent in May and continue the strong spring selling season as the month includes five weekends, two industry research firms said on Thursday. Related news CREDIT SUISSE, DEUTSCHE BANK Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank made a surprise move on the US bond market on Thursday, printing US$5bn and US$3.5bn respectively of senior unsecured Yankee issuance. For more, click on BARCLAYS Barclays is sounding out potential buyers for its Spanish retail bank, people familiar with the matter said, adding that local peers and private equity firms could be interested in parts of the business. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and John Stonestreet)
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