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LONDON, Dec 22 (Reuters) - European and UK stock markets were expected to open higher on Monday, buoyed by gains in the United States and Asia, although traders were also expected to keep a wary eye on political developments in Greece.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 futures contract rose 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX futures rose 0.5 percent, France's CAC futures advanced 0.4 percent while financial spreadbetters at IG expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open up by 32 points, or 0.5 percent.
On Wall Street on Friday, U.S. shares rose, with the S&P 500 coming within a few points of its closing record high. The S&P has risen 5 percent since Wednesday to log its best three-day gain since 2011, after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would be "patient" on raising benchmark U.S. interest rates, depending on domestic growth and inflation.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras offered on Sunday to bring pro-European independents into the government and hold new elections in late 2015 if lawmakers back him to elect a new president.
Samaras' surprise announcement came two days ahead of the second round of voting for president and follows a disappointing result for the government in the first round last week when it won less support than expected.
The head of state is a largely ceremonial post but if the 300-member parliament does not choose a president by the third vote on Dec. 29, elections will have to be held by early February, potentially putting negotiations over Greece's bailout at risk.
Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v)
Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-ASIAN SHARES TAKE CUE FROM WALL STREET'S RALLY > US STOCKS-WALL ST UP FOR 3RD DAY, LED BY ENERGY SHARES - > NIKKEI CLOSES AT 2 WEEK-HIGH AS ENERGY FIRMS SHINE; SHOWA SHELL SOARS ON M&A REPORT > TREASURIES-U.S. BONDS MARKET REBOUNDS AS BUYING RE-EMERGES > FOREX-EURO SHAKY ON ECB AND GREECE, DOLLAR KEEPS EDGE > PRECIOUS-GOLD INCHES UP BUT HOLDS BELOW $1,200 ON ROBUST EQUITIES, DOLLAR
> METALS-COPPER FUTURES DROP, OVERSUPPLY WORRIES DRAG > BRENT CLIMBS ABOVE $62 AS ASIAN MARKETS OPEN STRONG
The recent sharp fall in oil prices should not be seen as a signal of where inflation will be in a couple of years' time, according to a Bank of England policymaker who has been voting for a hike in interest rates.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won a confidence vote to get his tax-cutting 2015 budget through the Senate on Saturday and it is expected to be definitively approved by the lower house of parliament next week.
Adidas has sold more than 3 million Germany soccer shirts in the past year, with demand boosted by the national team's victory at the World Cup tournament in July, its chief executive told a German magazine published on Sunday.
The European Union launched a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization on Friday to challenge what it considers illegal U.S. subsidies for Airbus rival Boeing Co and other aerospace manufacturers in the U.S. state of Washington. Separately, Pratt & Whitney said on Friday its engine for Airbus' A320neo family of narrowbody airplanes has won certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.
U.S. company Pfizer is unlikely to come back with a fresh bid for AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals group's top executive was quoted as saying by Swedish business daily Dagens Industri on Saturday.
China has officially approved imports of a genetically modified Bayer CropScience soybean variety after seven years of review, the company said on Friday, raising expectations that approval notices will come soon for other biotech crops.
German engineering and services company Bilfinger SE on Monday said it had sold parts of its construction division to Switzerland-based Implenia.
Deutsche Bank faces a fine for making false statements in connection with the Kirch media group's long-running bankruptcy case, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported. Separately, co-chief executive Juergen Fitschen told Welt am Sonntag that consolidation of the European retail banking market was overdue but would not commit on whether that could mean a sale of Postbank.
Deutsche Telekom is in talks to sell its Internet portal T-Online and online marketer Interactive Media to publisher Axel Springer, German media reported at the weekend. Separately, two U.S. agencies said on Friday that T-Mobile US has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. government over unauthorized charges placed on customers' bills, a practice known as cramming, and to pay at least $90 million.
Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial SA tore up a sweetened $830 million offer for Australia's Transfield Services Ltd, putting the contractor under pressure to show it can thrive as the country's mining boom grinds to a halt.
Finnish oil refiner Neste Oil lifted its full-year profit guidance by about 37.5 percent on the back of a reinstatement of the renewable fuel tax credit in the United States, favourable business performance and a one-off gain.
The chief executive of Sainsbury's said on Sunday it would take another 18 months to two years before "extremely challenging" conditions in the grocery market improved.
French defence electronics maker Thales is set to name former EDF boss Henri Proglio as non-executive chairman and its own second-in-command Patrice Caine as chief executive, two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Sunday. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alistair Smout)