European Factors to Watch-Major share indexes head for best quarter in years
(Adds company news, updates futures prices) LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - European equities headed for a slightly lower open on Tuesday on concerns over Greece's debt situation, although some major stock indexes were set to record their best quarter in several years. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 and France's CAC indexes, up 16 percent and 19 percent respectively since the start of the year, were on track for their best quarterly performance since the third quarter of 2009, boosted by the European Central Bank's bond buying programme and improving economic outlook in the region. Germany's benchmark DAX index has risen 23 percent this year, its best quarter since the April-June period of 2003. But Greece's ATG share index has fallen 6.5 percent during the current quarter on concerns about the country's ability to secure more funding from its international lenders. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appealed for an "honest compromise" with lenders but warned on Monday Greece would not agree to an "unconditional" one, after its biggest creditor demanded it do more to show commitment to reform. With its cash coffers emptying rapidly, Athens is running out of time. "The brinkmanship continues as both sides continue to stare at each other over the political void. Despite Greece hurtling towards bankruptcy, an agreement continues to evade," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said in a note. European stock index future pointed to a slightly weaker start on Tuesday, with futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX and France's CAC down 0.3 to 0.4 percent by 0650 GMT. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1.2 percent on Monday to 1,596.31 points, back near a 7-1/2 year high of 1,613.80 points reached earlier in March. Germany's DAX also rose 1.8 percent to 12,086.01 points, near a record high of 12,219.05 points hit in mid-March. On the macroeconomic front, German retail sales fell in February on a monthly basis for the first time since September, but a strong annual gain buoyed expectations private consumption will propel growth this year. COMPANY NEWS PHILIPS The company said it has agreed to sell an 80.1 percent stake in its lighting components division for $2.8 billion to Go Scale Capital, a new investment fund that focuses on "disruptive" technologies. FAURECIA France's Faurecia on Tuesday said it had agreed to form a joint-venture with Dongfeng Motor Corporation with the objective of generating annual sales of around 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in the medium term. RIO TINTO Rio Tinto and Mongolia have made a breakthrough in a tax dispute that has been among issues stalling development of the $6.5 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, according to an official familiar with the government's position. PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen will only be ready for a possible merger after it has completed its recovery plan, CEO Carlos Tavares told Italian daily Corriere della Sera. KINGFISHER Europe's biggest home improvement retailer said on Tuesday it planned to close about 60 underperforming B&Q stores in Britain as the wider group posted a 7.5 percent fall in annual profit. ALLIANZ Allianz has pencilled in $300 million as an initial estimate of the insurance industry loss from the Germanwings plane crash last week, industry sources said on Monday. FERROVIAL The Spanish infrastructure operator said on Monday it had increased a credit line obtained in April 2014 to 1.25 billion euros, increasing its maturity to 2020 and reducing financing costs. LUFTHANSA The German pilot suspected of deliberately crashing a plane in the French Alps last week was treated for suicidal tendencies years ago before he received his pilot's license, German prosecutors said on Monday. Separately, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr must make the airline fit for the future while dealing with the aftermath of the crash. RICHEMONT Swiss luxury goods firm Richemont said it would merge its Net-a-Porter unit with Italian online fashion retailer Yoox, an all-share deal meant aimed at growing in the fast-growing online luxury market. SWISS BANKS Swiss private bank BSI SA avoided prosecution for suspected tax-related offenses by paying a $211 million penalty, making it the first bank to reach a deal in the U.S. Department of Justice's "Swiss Bank Program," the department said on Monday. MR BRICOLAGE Trading resumes in the French DIY chain's shares after it acknowledged the collapse of its acquisition by British rival Kingfisher. TESCO Britain's biggest retailer has started the process to sell-off land from abandoned supermarket development projects, seeking to raise cash to help to finance its recovery plan under its new boss. The Guardian reported late on Monday that Tesco is radically restructuring the way it works with suppliers, cutting the number of ways in which it charges them from 24 to just three. BANK OF IRELAND Canada's Fairfax Financial Holdings on Monday moved to sell half of its 5.8 percent stake in Bank of Ireland, cashing in on shares that have more than tripled in value since their purchase at the height of the euro zone crisis. ANTOFAGASTA Teck Resources Ltd and Antofagasta denied on Monday that they were in talks about a merger after Bloomberg news reported that the two mining companies were in early stage talks. ROYAL DUTCH SHELL Royal Dutch Shell will resume drilling off Alaska after suspending operations for two years in the wake of an accident, the special U.S. envoy to the Arctic said on Monday, but gave no details as to when. Royal Dutch Shell has shelved plans to increase capacity by 20 percent at its 70,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, according to a person familiar with the plant's operations. CENTRICA Gas deliveries to Britain's Barrow terminal remained shut on Tuesday morning after dropping to zero on Monday evening due to an unexpected outage, data from the National Grid showed. The terminal's operator Centrica said it had been investigating the reasons for the outage and its duration was unknown. GLAXOSMITHKLINE GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to settle a lawsuit by Johnson & Johnson accusing it of using false advertising at the start of the U.S. allergy season to grab market share. DANONE Starbucks Corp and Danone SA on Tuesday will begin selling a smoothie line at more than 4,300 U.S. Starbucks shops as part of a Greek yogurt partnership that will also include yogurt parfaits and ready-to-eat yogurt to be sold by grocers. MACROECONOMIC DATA/EVENTS : 0745 FR Consumer Spending 0855 DE Unemployment 0930 GB GDP 1000 EZ Inflation, Unemployment 1355 US Redbook 1400 US CaseShiller 1445 US Chicago PMI 1500 US Consumer Confidence ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0515 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,086.24 1.22 % 25.22 NIKKEI 19334.99 -0.39 % -76.41 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 485.79 0.53 % 2.55 EUR/USD 1.0787 -0.42 % -0.0045 USD/JPY 120.18 0.1 % 0.1200 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.949 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.209 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,182.03 -0.31 % -$3.67 US CRUDE $48.10 -1.19 % -0.58 > Asia up on Wall St rally and China hopes, euro sags on Greece > Wall St rebounds from recent losses; deals help > Nikkei rises on Wall Street gains; heads for 3 straight monthly gain > Prices mostly steady as Wall Street rallies > Yen, Aussie hit hard as dollar gains traction > Gold set for 2nd monthly loss as U.S. rate hike eyed > LME nickel extends savage selloff on weak demand, record stocks > Oil extends losses as deadline for Iran nuclear deal looms (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Francesco Canepa)
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