Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to rally after Fed comments
PARIS, Dec 18 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Thursday, tracking a rally on Wall Street after the U.S. Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the economy and said it would take a patient approach toward raising interest rates. At 0710 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were 1.0-1.1 percent. Fed Chair Janet Yellen told a news conference that "patient" meant the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee was unlikely to hike rates for "at least a couple of meetings," meaning April of next year at the earliest. U.S. stocks and bond yields rallied as investors digested the comments that evinced faith in the economy while still projecting a slow-going approach to rate hikes. Greek stocks will be in focus again on Thursday after a poll showed radical leftist Syriza party holds a 3.6-percentage-point lead over the ruling conservatives. The poll was published hours after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras lost the first round of a presidential vote by a larger-than-expected margin, in a disappointing result for his conservative-centre left coalition ahead of two more rounds of voting this month. Shares in Swiss companies such as UBS, Credit Suisse and Richemont will also be in the spotlight after the Swiss National Bank said it would introduce a negative rates of -0.25 percent on sight deposit account balances at the central bank as it seeks to deter safe-haven buying. European stocks are down about 6 percent since the start of the month, as the relentless drop in oil prices has hurt energy shares and fuelled fears of deflation in the euro zone, while the collapse of Russia's rouble has sparked worries about the country's economy and the impact on Europe's recovery. However, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday that European shares are set to bounce back in 2015, helped by the European Central Bank's ultra-loose policy and as a weaker euro and lower oil prices lift earnings. The survey of more than 50 fund managers and strategists conducted in the past week predicted the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 index would rise 13 percent from current levels to 370 points by the end of 2015. Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v) Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0724 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,012.89 2.04 % 40.15 NIKKEI 17210.05 2.32 % 390.32 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 451.95 0.58 % 2.6 EUR/USD 1.2287 -0.44 % -0.0054 USD/JPY 118.81 0.14 % 0.1700 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.120 -- -0.03 10-YR BUND YLD 0.584 -- -0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,197.60 0.79 % $9.40 US CRUDE $56.38 -0.16 % -0.09 > GLOBAL MARKETS-ASIA RELIEVED BY WALL ST BOUNCE, UPBEAT FED > WALL ST RALLIES AFTER FED; S&P 500 POSTS BEST DAY SINCE 2013 > NIKKEI SEES BIGGEST DAILY RISE IN 6-1/2 WEEKS ON WALL ST, FED CONFIDENCE > TREASURIES-U.S. BOND YIELDS RISE AS FED SHADES TOWARDS RATE HIKE > FOREX-DOLLAR UP AS FED RATE GUIDANCE SHOWS QUIET CONFIDENCE IN ECONOMY > PRECIOUS-GOLD GAINS AS FED TAKES "PATIENT" STANCE ON RATE HIKE > METALS-COPPER FUTURES CLIMB ON CHINA ECONOMY HOPES, OIL GAINS > BRENT EDGES FURTHER ABOVE $61 AS COMPANIES CUT UPSTREAM INVESTMENTS COMPANY NEWS: CARREFOUR Brazilian billionaire Abilio Diniz has agreed to buy a 10 percent stake in Carrefour SA's Brazilian unit, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday, potentially strengthening its ability to take on the supermarket chain Diniz's father founded. ALLIANZ Pimco posted a record total outflow of $5.8 billion from its emerging market funds in the first 11 months of 2014, according to Morningstar data released on Wednesday. SYNGENTA Chinese government approval for imports of a controversial type of Syngenta AG biotech corn increases the likelihood the seed maker will pay settlements to more than 100 U.S. farmers and exporters suing for damages from grain shipments rejected by Beijing, lawyers said. BASF, ROYAL DUTCH SHELL BASF said it is going to sell its share in the 50-50 joint venture ELLBA Eastern, Jurong Island, Singapore to Shell. BARCLAYS The 500 million pounds ($783.70 million) Barclays set aside to settle allegations of rigging the foreign exchange market will not be enough, the bank's Chief Executive Antony Jenkins said in an interview to Sky News. BT GROUP BT is preparing a giant financing package including a 2 billion pounds rights issue to help fund its planned takeover of EE, the mobile operator. The share placing will help to keep the telecom giant's level of debt at a manageable level as it faces big bills next year from an anticipated increase in pension fund top-up payments and a jump in Premier League rights costs, The Telegraph reported. SHIRE Shire, whose proposed sale to AbbVie Inc fell apart in October, is considering an offer for U.S-based drug developer NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc , Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. ROYAL MAIL Taxpayers lost out on a lower sum from the privatisation of Royal Mail than the 1 billion pounds suggested by MPs earlier this year, a report commissioned by Vince Cable will conclude this week, Sky News reported. SANOFI The French drugmaker said it has completed an 8 billion euro refinancing of its two syndicated revolving credit facilities. AIRBUS A management reshuffle at Airbus AIR.PA this week marks another step towards focusing Europe's biggest aerospace company on industrial performance rather than the political interests of key shareholders France and Germany, industry sources said. U.S. civil aircraft sales are expected to rise 6 percent to $79.76 billion in 2015, down from a growth rate of 8 percent in 2014, the Aerospace Industries Association said. ALSTOM, ACCIONA Acciona said its consortium including Alstom Transport Australia signed a 1.4 billion euro contract with the New South Wales government to build a light railway in Sydney. ADP The operator of Paris' airports set out proposals to invest 3.1 billion euros over the period 2016-2020 and set a target to bring its return on capital employed in line with the group's estimated 5.8 percent weighted average cost of capital in 2020. EUROSTAR French state-owned rail operator SNCF is considering using its pre-emption rights on the Eurostar train service that runs from Paris and Brussels to London in order to block certain bidders for the stake put up for sale by its partner, the British government, according to Les Echos newspaper. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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