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LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - European shares were indicated to edge higher at the open on Friday, setting up an index of euro zone blue chips for its seventh consecutive weekly gain.
Futures for the Euro STOXX 50 equity index, Britain’s FTSE 100 , Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC were between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent higher at 0729 GMT.
The Euro STOXX 50 index was heading for its seventh straight weekly gain, extending a rally fuelled by the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme, which has depressed bond yields and knocked down the euro .
Holcim and Lafarge were set to be in focus after they agreed to new terms over their planned multi-billion-euro merger, which would create the world’s biggest cement firm, including agreeing to a new share-swap ratio for the deal.
German biotech company Evotec was seen opening 9 percent higher after it announced late on Thursday that it had agreed an alliance with Sanofi to cooperate on mostly oncology-related projects.
Some volatility could be on the cards due to the expiry of monthly and quarterly futures and options.
Holcim Ltd and Lafarge have agreed to new terms over their planned multi-billion-euro merger, which would create the world’s biggest cement firm, including agreeing to a new share-swap ratio for the deal.
China National Chemical Corporation is set to launch a bid on Pirelli to become a majority shareholder through its Aeolus Tyre unit, several papers said. The deal, which involves delisting Pirelli and spinning off its truck tyre business, is in an advanced stage and could be announced Friday or in coming days, they said. Il Messaggero said after the operation Aeolus will have 51 percent of the new group.
On Friday Korea’s Hankook Tire and Japan’s Yokohama Rubber denied they were in talks with Pirelli.
The French company, one of the leading producers of seats for passenger jets, issued a profit warning on Thursday after a rise in costs as it tries to stem delays in seat production that have strained relations with planemakers Airbus and Boeing.
A U.S. judge on Thursday denied Amgen Inc’s bid to block the sale of Novartis AG’s recently approved “biosimilar” form of Neupogen, Amgen’s blockbuster drug used to prevent infections in cancer patients.
Pilots at Lufthansa are on strike a third day and announced late on Thursday that they will continue their walkout for a fourth day on Saturday, hitting long-haul flights.
Ratings agency Fitch said on Thursday it had downgraded Spanish engineering and energy group Abengoa to B from B+, with a stable outlook, citing an increase in the firm’s ‘Fitch-adjusted’ net leverage for 2014.
CREDIT SUISSE <CSGN.VX.
Credit Suisse said it had stowed 1.02 billion Swiss francs ($1.03 billion) for legal disputes including allegations of price-fixing in the credit default swaps market and a probe of alternative trading venues known as dark pools at the end of 2014.
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Spanish lender Sabadell is set to make a firm offer to buy Britain’s TSB on Friday, a source with knowledge of the matter said, after it made a 340 pence-per-share preliminary approach for the British bank last week.
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The Italian lender said on Thursday its board has increased the size of its planned share issue to up to 850 million euros ($904 million) from an initial proposal submitted to the European Central Bank for 700 million euros.
Two big investors in Standard Chartered want the bank to consider moving its domicile away from London because of the chancellor’s decision to raise the UK bank levy by one-third, the Financial Times reported.
German discounter Aldi, which has long avoided online sales as not profitable enough, is planning to trial e-commerce in Britain and possibly other countries too, including its home market, a trade journal reported on Thursday.
Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco said on Friday it has regained sole ownership of 21 superstores in a deal with British Land BLND.L that forms part of a plan to strengthen its core UK business.
Telecom Italia has launched an offering of unsecured equity-linked bonds, seeking up to 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to help fund a recently announced investment plan.
The phone group on Thursday proposed to change some of its bylaws that would reduce the appointment power of the majority slate in a board election.
Vodafone and infrastructure fund F2i have signed a non-disclosure agreement, two sources said, in a move that could help advance the talks between the two companies as the global mobile giant seeks to buy a controlling stake in fibre optic group Metroweb. However, the hypothesis of Telecom Italia buying a stake in Metroweb remains on the table and a solution over the shareholder structure of Metroweb is not seen as imminent, the sources added.
Africa-focused oil producer Tullow Oil said it had raised an additional $450 million of capital from existing lenders, boosting the energy firm’s financial strength amid weak oil prices.
The biotech company announced late on Thursday that it had agreed an alliance with Sanofi to cooperate on mostly oncology-related projects.
The builder is to abandon two contracts in Algeria worth 1.6 billion euros in total, website El Confidencial reported, without citing sources.
The ad company posted a 5.1 percent rise in 2014 organic revenue to 1.87 billion euros and raised its dividend by 18 percent.
The company which runs a high-speed rail connection between Spain and France, owned jointly by ACS and Eiffage, said it was entering formal talks with creditors to avoid insolvency proceedings.
Russian carmaker Avtovaz, producer of the best-selling Lada and controlled by the Renault-Nissan alliance, expects to grab a bigger share of the shrinking domestic market as its international rivals pull back.
The lender reported a net profit of 40.6 million euros for last year, up from a net loss of 4.8 million the previous year, the company said in a statement.
The company reported a 2014 net profit of 37.8 million euros, up from 32.9 million the previous year.
The builder reported a 12 percent rise in 2014 net profit to 103 million euros.
The engineering group reported a full-year net income of 50.6 million euros for last year, up from 17.3 million euros the previous year.
BMO Q4 2014 Tiffany & Co
0700 DE Producer prices Feb
0930 GB PSNB Feb > Asia stocks stall as Fed-inspired lift peters out, dollar steady > S&P 500 ends lower in Fed rally reversal > Japan shares stay near 15-year high, outlook remains positive > TREASURIES-Most yields rise but long-dated slip day after Fed meeting > Dollar edges down but well above Fed-inspired lows > Gold hovers near 2-week high, set for weekly gain > Copper slips but Indonesia mine blockade lends support > Brent climbs towards $55 on weaker dollar; supply concerns limit gains (Reporting By Francesco Canepa)