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LONDON, Jan 6 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to edge lower on Wednesday, as concerns over the Chinese economy resurfaced after it allowed the yuan to weaken further, while a North Korean nuclear test heightened geopolitical tensions.
Futures on the Euro STOXX 50, German DAX, France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE were 0.1-0.3 percent lower ahead of the cash market open.
The People’s Bank of China set a weaker midpoint for the yuan, prompting concerns that the world’s second-biggest economy could be even weaker than imagined. A survey showed that China’s services sector expanded at its slowest pace in 17 months in December.
“Equity markets did not take the (yuan) surprise well... There was little joy to be had in the Caixin Services PMI release today either,” Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG, said in a note.
Risk sentiment was also dampened after North Korea said it had successfully conducted a test of a miniaturised hydrogen nuclear device on Wednesday morning, marking a significant advance in the isolated state’s strike capabilities and raising alarm bells in Japan and South Korea.
In a quiet day for corporate news, automakers might be in focus after U.S. auto sales were strong in December, indicating that 2015 would smash records. Most forecasters said the new year will be even better.
HSBC said on Tuesday online banking was returning steadily to service after a blackout affected its customers in Britain.
The flagship fund of the insurer’s Pacific Investment Management Co unit posted an inflow of $1.3 billion in December on clients’ reinvestments of capital gains. That marked the fund’s first inflow since April 2013.
Volkswagen Of America’s December U.S. sales totaled 30,956 units, down 9.1 percent.
The head of Volkswagen’s top selling brand said Tuesday he is “confident” the German automaker will reach agreement with U.S regulators to bring nearly 500,000 diesel vehicles into compliance with U.S. emissions laws.
The carmaker said on Tuesday its Canadian sales rose 2 percent to 21,961 vehicles in December from the same month a year earlier, as forecasters expect automakers to report record-breaking Canadian sales in 2015.
Sales of BMW brand vehicles in the United States fell 16.6 percent to 34,625 vehicles in December.
Mercedes-Benz USA sales for December were up 1.7 percent versus the 38,270 sold in December 2014.
Credit Suisse U.S. stock trading chief Mathisson is leaving the bank, he told employees today of plans to start a new business, media reported overnight.
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Swiss Re Corporate Solutions signed an agreement to acquire the stop loss business from Independence Holding Company for $153 million.
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The French utility EDF is considering selling assets worth over 6 billion euros this year, French daily Les Echos reported.
The French supplier of industrial gases said it would invest around 40 million euros in a new carbon dioxide production unit in Colombia.
Buyout firm Catterton has agreed to join forces with the French luxury goods company and investment firm Groupe Arnault in the creation of L Catterton, a consumer-focused private equity firm.
Europe’s biggest supplier of building materials said it had finalised the acquisition of Brazil’s Industrial Potengy, a company wich sells tile adhesives.
The French producer of electricity from renewable energy sources said it would develop a wind power cluster in Brazil with a potential capacity of 1.2 gigawatts.
> GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks hit by China worries, N.Korea test > US STOCKS-Wall St stabilizes after Monday’s steep declines > Nikkei hits 2-1/2 month low on China worries, N Korea uncertainty > TREASURIES-Long-dated yields rise on less global growth jitters > FOREX-Yen jumps after China data, North Korea drive risk-aversion > PRECIOUS-Gold holds gains in choppy trading on safe haven demand > METALS-London copper drifts as China caution persists > Oil prices give up earlier gains; languish near 11-year lows (Reporting by Alistair Smout)