Europe Factors to Watch-Shares set for mixed open after Fed
PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - European stocks were set for a mixed start on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve suggested a less aggressive timeline for raising interest rates. The tone from the Fed sent the dollar dropping and the euro surging. Euro zone stocks, especially Germany's DAX, have rallied strongly in the past few months as investors bet that a lower euro would boost the region's economy and corporate earnings. The Fed dropped the word "patient" from its statement in terms of raising interest rates, as expected, but also downgraded its views on the economy and inflation and lowered its interest rate trajectory. That signalled a far more gradual path to policy normalisation than many investors had foreseen. The euro bounced as high as $1.1062 on the Fed's announcement, its biggest one-day rise against the dollar in six years and moving well off a 12-year trough of $1.0457 plumbed on Monday. At 0727 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50 were down 0.2 percent, for Germany's DAX down 0.4 percent and for France's CAC flat. "The Germans, the world's third largest exporter, aren't enjoying he prospect of a weaker dollar/stronger euro hitting their economy so we see the DAX lower on the open," Capital Spreads trader Jonathan Sudaria wrote in a note. Swiss stocks will also be in the spotlight after the Swiss government cut its growth forecasts for this year and next after the Swiss National Bank removed its cap on the franc, but said there were no signs of a severe slowdown. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0728 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,099.50 1.22 % 25.22 NIKKEI 19476.56 -0.35 % -67.92 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 484.84 1.48 % 7.05 EUR/USD 1.0717 -1.36 % -0.0148 USD/JPY 120.64 0.46 % 0.5500 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.918 -- -0.03 10-YR BUND YLD 0.176 -- -0.02 SPOT GOLD $1,169.96 0.28 % $3.21 US CRUDE $43.50 -2.6 % -1.16 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks up, bond yields tumble on Fed caution > Wall St surges as Fed statement relieves rate worries > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 0.35 pct > Short-dated yields post biggest daily fall since 2009 after Fed > FOREX-Dollar licks its wounds after Fed gores bulls > PRECIOUS-Gold at near two-week high as dollar tumbles on dovish Fed > METALS-Metals open up as weak dollar eclipses U.S. growth downgrade > Brent falls towards $55 as rally fades on inventory build COMPANY NEWS: LAFARGE, HOLCIM Cement makers Holcim and Lafarge, seeking to save their merger deal, are discussing a new leadership for the combined group which would give Lafarge's boss Bruno Lafont a lesser role, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. ALLIANZ Allianz SE struck a deal with Goldman Sachs to help the German company hedge part of its stake in China Pacific Insurance Group (CPIC) and lock in profits from two rounds of investments that Allianz made in China's third-largest insurer. DEUTSCHE TELEKOM, LAGARDERE French media group Lagardere said it is selling 2.84 million Telekom shares for 45 million euros, with the sale taking effect in June 2016. It has owned the shares since it sold Club Internet to T-Online International in early 2000. ARM HOLDINGS PLC British chip design firm said on Thursday its market share in servers may touch around 20 percent by 2020, up from less than 1 percent now, citing massive potential in the market for big data. NEXT The British clothing retailer met guidance with a 12.5 percent rise in year profit, powered by sales growth at both its stores and Directory internet business. FRAPORT Airport operator warned geopolitical events and further strikes at its main customer Lufthansa could weigh on passenger figures at Frankfurt in 2015. KRONES German beverage filling and packaging technology firm expects its operating margin and sales to rise this year, it said on Thursday, adding it would propose a dividend of 1.25 euros per share for 2014. VOLVO Truck maker Volvo's chief executive Olof Persson may be forced to leave the company in the next few weeks, Swedish business daily Dagens Industri reported on Thursday, citing unnamed well-placed sources. HEIDELBERGCEMENT Germany's aims for significant improvements in sales, operating income and adjusted net profit this year thanks to strong demand in its core markets, the weaker oil price and euro, and efficiency measures. LANXESS German chemicals group unveiled more cutbacks on Thursday, shedding about 140 jobs in rubber production, as it grapples with harsh competition and said finding a strategic partner would likely take until the second half of the year. SWISS STOCKS The Swiss government cut its growth forecasts for this year and next after the Swiss National Bank removed its cap on the franc, but said there were no signs of a severe slowdown. ENEL Italy's biggest utility said on Thursday its core earnings this year would be lower in 2014 year as it looks to increase profitability and dividends by focusing on emerging markets and renewable energy. Enel also said its net profit in 2014 fell 84 percent on the year after booking hefty writedowns on assets, especially in Italy and Slovakia. KION German forklift truckmaker said it would raise its 2014 dividend by 57 percent, adding it expected higher revenues, operating earnings and order intake this year on the back of strong demand in Europe and China. SCHOELLER-BLECKMANN Austria's Schoeller-Bleckmann Oilfield Equipment SBOE.VI proposed keeping its dividend steady at 1.50 euros per share despite a 12 percent net profit drop in 2014. ZODIAC Planemakers Airbus and Boeing have stepped up pressure on French supplier Zodiac Aerospace over persistent delays in the delivery of aircraft seats that are disrupting jetliner assembly, industry sources said. SANOFI The gap between regulatory decisions on new medicines made in different parts of the world is increasing, imposing a high cost on industry and deterring investment, the head of research at France's Sanofi said on Wednesday. Separately, the drugmaker said its lixisenatide drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes did not increase cardiovascular risk among high risk patients in a study it conducted. AIRBUS The planemaker has claimed $700 million in compensation for breach of contract from the Tokyo court that is charged with bankruptcy proceedings for the Japanese airline Skymark Airlines, Le Figaro newspaper reported citing an Airbus spokesman. SOPRA STERIA The IT services group created from the merger of Sopra and Steria said it was targeting for 2017 revenue of between 3.8 billion and 4.0 billion euros ($4.1-4.3 billion) and an operating profit margin on business activity of between 8 and 9 percent. The company was reporting 2014 sales and the acquisition of Airbus subsidiary CIMPA SAS for an undisclosed sum. CGG The seismic surveys group said it had won a contract from a unit of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation on the Caribbean coast offshore Colombia. it said the survey would be the largest marine seismic program ever acquired in Colombia. LVMH Tag Heuer plans to unveil a smartwatch in collaboration with U.S. chipmaker Intel in one of several partnerships expected at the world's biggest watch fair this week. INTERPARFUMS The French fragrances group is to buy the perfumes brand Rochas from U.S.-based Procter & Gamble for $108 million, Le Figaro daily newspaper reported. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)
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