Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to inch up in shortened session
PARIS, Dec 24 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to inch higher on Wednesday for a shortened session ahead of the Christmas holiday, mirroring a rally on Wall Street sparked by unexpectedly strong U.S. GDP data. Oil major BP will be in focus after Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday that the company is close to a deal with its Russian partner, state oil company Rosneft, for a new project that would expand its commitments in Russia despite Western sanctions. Mining stocks were set to benefit from a gains in copper prices, edging higher on Wednesday after losses in the previous two days. However, energy stocks will be under renewed pressure as Brent futures fell towards $61 per barrel, giving up some of the previous session's gains. Data showed on Tuesday the U.S. economy grew at a 5.0 percent clip in the third quarter, its quickest pace in 11 years and the strongest sign yet that growth has decisively shifted into higher gear. Both the Dow and S&P 500 hit intraday record highs in their fifth-straight day of gains on Tuesday on Wall Street, with the Dow closing above 18,000 for the first time ever. European biotech stocks will be eyed, however, as the Nasdaq ended lower, pressured by the biggest selloff in biotech names in many months. The London Stock Exchange is set to close the session at 1230 GMT, while Euronext markets will close at 1305 GMT, along with the Madrid Stock Exchange. The cash markets for both Milan and Frankfurt will remain closed on Wednesday. Europe bourses in 2014: (link.reuters.com/pad95v) Asset performance in 2014: (link.reuters.com/rav46v) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0725 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,082.17 0.17 % 3.63 NIKKEI 17854.23 1.24 % 219.09 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 463.01 0.24 % 1.09 EUR/USD 1.2183 0.1 % 0.0012 USD/JPY 120.36 -0.26 % -0.3100 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.245 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.593 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,178.50 0.27 % $3.14 US CRUDE $56.91 -0.37 % -0.21 > GLOBAL MARKETS-NIKKEI, DOLLAR UP AS ROBUST US GDP LIFTS MOOD > US STOCKS-DOW ENDS ABOVE 18K FOR FIRST TIME ON STRONG GDP REPORT > NIKKEI RISES ON STRONG U.S. GROWTH DATA; EXPORTERS ENJOY WEAK YEN > DOLLAR BULLS GET EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT AFTER STRONG US GDP > GOLD NEAR 3-WEEK LOW AS STOCKS, DOLLAR SURGE ON STRONG U.S. GROWTH > METALS-COPPER FUTURES EDGE UP AFTER 2-DAY LOSS; DOLLAR GAIN EYED > BRENT DROPS TOWARD $61 AS DOLLAR FIRMS AFTER STRONG US DATA COMPANY NEWS: BP Oil major BP is close to a deal with its Russian partner, state oil company Rosneft, for a new project that would expand its commitments in Russia despite Western sanctions, Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday. ALSTOM Ratings agency S&P cut its outlook on the French engineering group to "negative" from "stable" ahead of the company's planned share and bond buybacks and the payment of a $772 million fine to settle U.S. bribery charges. S&P affirmed its long-term BBB- corporate credit rating on Alstom. LAFARGE The cement maker said its merger with Swiss peer Holcim was "fully on track" and named the future executive committee of the combined group. WENDEL The French investment group said it had agreed to acquire Constantia Flexibles in a deal that values the Austrian packaging company at 2.3 billion euros. FAURECIA The French auto parts maker said it would appeal against a 2 million euro fine imposed by the country's AMF stock market regulator for alleged selective disclosure of financial information to stock analysts in 2012. NEXITY French bank Groupe BPCE said it agreed to sell 3 percent of Nexity to an investment vehicle called NewPort SAS controlled by the real estate company's executives. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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