Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set to further rally as euro falls
PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to rise on Monday, shrugging off losses on Wall Street on Friday and extending their recent sharp rally, as investors bet that a renewed drop in the euro would boost the region's economy and lift exporter earnings. At 0744 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.3-0.5 percent. The euro fell as low as $1.0457 early in Asia, its lowest since January 2003, after a brief bounce above $1.0600 overnight. It last traded at $1.0524. The single currency sank last week against the dollar as the European Central Bank began asset purchases that will eventually help pump a trillion euros into the economy. The relentless slide in the euro over the past year has given a significant lift to European corporate results after years of stagnating profits. The drop in the single currency is seen translating into a 10 to 13 percent lift in earnings in 2015. Shares in cement makers Lafarge and Holcim will be in focus after Lafarge said it was willing to consider revising the share-exchange ratio in the two groups' merger deal. Energy shares will also be in the spotlight as oil prices tumbled, with U.S. crude dropping more than 2 percent at one point to a six-year low amid oversupply fears. The International Energy Agency said on Friday that the global supply glut is growing and U.S. production shows no sign of slowing. Investors' main focus this week will be the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day meeting beginning on Tuesday. After successive months of strong jobs data, expectations have been growing that the Fed will point towards a June rate rise by dropping a pledge to be "patient" in considering such a move. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0744 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,053.40 -0.61 % -12.55 NIKKEI 19246.06 -0.04 % -8.19 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 472.66 0.1 % 0.47 EUR/USD 1.0529 0.34 % 0.0036 USD/JPY 121.24 -0.12 % -0.1400 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.093 -- -0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 0.266 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,162.00 0.28 % $3.27 US CRUDE $44.47 -0.83 % -0.37 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares edge up ahead of Fed meeting > Wall St resumes fall as dollar hits 12-year high > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 0.04 pct > Prices ease ahead of Fed talks after strong gains > FOREX-Euro drifts down to new lows, dollar firms > Gold near lowest in over three months ahead of Fed meeting > METALS-Copper steadies; U.S. dollar, rate hike prospects cap gains > Oil prices drop as spare storage capacity runs low COMPANY NEWS: LAFARGE, HOLCIM French cement maker Lafarge said on Monday it was willing to consider revising the share-exchange ratio in its merger agreement with Swiss peer Holcim, but not other aspects of the deal. HENNES & MAURITZ The Swedish budget fashion retailer said on Monday its sales rose 15 percent in February, above a forecast of 13 percent in a Reuters poll of analysts. ROYAL DUTCH SHELL The firm is pulling back from its shale projects in South Africa due to lower energy prices although it is still seeking an exploration license for the onshore Karoo Basin, its country manager said on Monday. ACTELION The firm said it presented long-term outcome data for Selexipag, or Uptravi, in pulmonary arterial hypertension at the American College of Cardiology showing the drug significantly reduced the risk of a morbidity/mortality event by 40 percent versus a placebo and that it improved long-term outcomes in an investigational trial of patients already treated with a combination therapy. DSM Dutch supplements maker said on Monday it will sell a 65 percent stake in two of its chemicals subsidiaries to CVC Capital Partners for at least 300 million euros ($316 million) in cash. LINDE German industrial gases specialist Linde LING.DE aims to increase adjusted core earnings by up to 9.7 percent this year, buoyed by a solid project backlog for gas it produces at its industrial customers' sites. BP The group has signed an agreement to invest $12 billion in Egypt that will produce 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, a joint statement from the company and the government said on Saturday. Also, the U.S. government is appealing a federal court ruling that reduced the potential penalty BP Plc must pay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill by almost $4 billion. CREDIT SUISSE Credit Suisse Group AG has no plans to raise more capital, its chairman said in an interview published in the SonntagsZeitung newspaper on Sunday. CHMOLZ + BICKENBACH Swiss steel group Schmolz+Bickenbach is nearing the sale of some distribution activities as it aims to focus on stainless steels production, a source familiar with the deal said. SIKA, SAINT-GOBAIN Sika, in a takeover fight between its controlling family and Saint-Gobain, said all current board members will stand for reelection at a shareholder meeting on April 14, which will address proposals including one aimed at limited the family's voting power and another led by institutional shareholders calling for a special audit. MONTE DEI PASCHI DI SIENA Alessandro Profumo wants to step down as chairman of Monte dei Paschi di Siena BMPS.MI once the troubled Italian bank has completed its 3 billion-euro ($3 billion) share sale, according to Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. Asked to comment on the report, Profumo told Reuters the issue would be discussed later this week, once the Monte dei Paschi foundation, a key shareholder, has approved a list of nominees for the renewal of the bank's board. ENI The Italian oil major signed heads of agreement with the Egypt worth $5 billion over 4-5 years, the oil minister and the company said on Saturday at a weekend investment summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. TELECOM ITALIA The Italian phone company said on Friday its tower unit Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane (Inwit) had filed with the Italian market regulator to list its shares on the Milan bourse. BANCA CARIGE Chairman Cesare Castelbarco Albani said on Saturday the Genoa-based bank expected to receive this week an answer from the European Central Bank on whether its plan to fill a capital shortfall through a cash call and asset sales is adequate. The board will decide on the size of the share sale, currently slated at 700 million euros, once it receives the ECB's letter, he reiterated. UNICREDIT, INTESA SANPAOLO KKR has bought the credits the two banks had towards Verona-based firms Ferroli and Riello, ahead of the creation of a vehicle to manage some of their restructured loans as part of a joint project with the U.S. fund, Il Messaggero reported on Sunday without citing sources. UNICREDIT The bank's main shareholders are close to agreeing on a joint list of board nominees that would see shareholders reappoint CEO Federico Ghizzoni and Chairman Giuseppe Vita at a May 13 meeting, Corriere della Sera said on Saturday without quoting sources. The paper quoted Luca di Montezemolo, a representative of UniCredit top shareholder Aabar, as saying there were no tensions among shareholders and they would present a single list of board candidates. RTL The broadcaster is aiming to negotiate lower prices for the free TV rights of the Formula One motor races to 30-35 million euros per season from a current 50 million, Wirtschaftswoche reported. KLEPIERRE The commercial real estate group has agreed to buy Plenilunio, a 70,000 square metre shopping centre in Madrid. It said the price was based on a gross asset value of 375 million euros. VIVENDI U.S. media group Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of the Travel Channel, agreed to buy a majority stake in Polish broadcaster TVN for 584 million euros. Scripps will buy the 52.7 percent stake in TVN currently held by Polish financial holding ITI and French media firm Vivendi. HSBC The French financial prosecutor's office has requested that HSBC's Swiss private bank be put on trial in France to answer charges over a suspected tax-dodging scheme for wealthy customers, a judicial source said on Friday. TOTAL Total SA shut the 74,000-barrel-per-day crude distillation unit at its 225,500-bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery on Thursday night for about 10 days of repairs, sources familiar with plant operations said on Friday. AIRBUS Airbus Helicopters is slated to sign on Monday a contract worth around $3 billion for the development and production of military and civil helicopters in South Korea, sources close to the matter said on Friday. SANOFI Studies of a new class of experimental cholesterol-lowering drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors signal that they can reduce by half the risk of heart attack and other major cardiovascular problems compared to standard treatment alone. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)
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