(Updates futures prices, adds company news)
LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - European stock index futures pointed to a sharply higher open for regional equities on Tuesday, tracking strong gains in Asia following the release of Chinese growth data.
Growth in fourth-quarter gross domestic product eased, as expected, to 6.8 percent from a year earlier, down from 6.9 percent in the third quarter and the weakest pace of expansion since the first quarter of 2009. Full-year growth of 6.9 percent was China’s poorest in quarter of a century.
“The markets may have been relieved that the numbers were not as bad as they could have been, given the challenges facing the economy during this period of transition and slowing global growth ... there is still plenty of scope for fiscal and monetary stimulus,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.
Futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Germany’s DAX , France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE 100 were up 1.5 to 1.9 percent by 0750 GMT.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.4 percent, rebounding from a four-year low touched earlier. Volatile Shanghai shares surged 3.3 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.6 percent.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.3 percent in the previous session.
The French bank is looking at the possible sale of stakes in over three dozen regional banks in a deal that could be worth about 17 billion euros to boost its capital, Bloomberg News reported.
The company reported a 4 percent rise in underlying full-year sales, just ahead of expectations, but said it was preparing itself for tougher market conditions and high volatility in 2016.
French carmaker Renault will recall more than 15,000 vehicles to make changes to their engines to bring them into line with emissions standards, Energy Minister Segolene Royal told RTL radio on Tuesday.
Europe’s biggest dedicated online fashion retailer Zalando reported that revenue growth slowed somewhat in the fourth quarter from the blistering pace of the previous three months in what it described as a challenging market.
French oil and gas major Total does not plan to cut jobs as peer BP has done to withstand the dramatic fall in oil prices, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
Danish enzyme maker Novozymes said on Tuesday operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2015 was roughly in line with analysts’ expectations, but trimmed its longer-term sales forecasts.
The Netherlands has chosen ABN Amro, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank to coordinate the possible listing of state-owned insurer ASR, the state agency in charge said.
Volkswagen plans to hire Louis Freeh, former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to help the carmaker deal with authorities in the United States investigating an emissions scandal, Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.
Also, sources have said that VW’s steering committee is due to discuss on Tuesday the state of play in the emissions scandal.
VW plans to continue efforts to push diesel engine technology in the United States, Chief Executive Mueller told RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland, a consortium of 30 newspapers.
Separately, South Korea plans to file a criminal complaint against the head of Volkswagen and Audi’s local unit on Tuesday, saying that a recall plan for emissions-cheating cars fell short of legal requirements.
The consumer goods company will continue its strategy of seeking sustainable growth under new Chief Executive Hans Van Bylen, a step which includes the possibility of large acquisitions, supervisory board chair Simone Bagel-Trah told Rheinische Post.
Q4 results due at 0700 GMT. Adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) are seen up 11 percent at 73 million euros ($79.4 million). Poll:
The business software maker reported a 4 percent gain in fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) to 92.2 million euros and forecast a 2016 EBITA margin of 30-31 percent, compared with 30 in the full year 2015.
British insurer Prudential Plc said on Tuesday its solvency capital ratio was 190 percent on June 30, 2015 under new European rules for insurers.
Global miner Rio Tinto plans to increase iron ore production and shipments in 2016, defying a collapse in prices as it takes advantage of its position as the world’s lowest cost producer.
Zurich Insurance said it welcomed the lifting of Iranian sanctions and would look into insurance cover for corporate customers doing business with Iran.
The price of oil has the potential to fall further this year but could rebound in 2017 on the back of a stronger global economy, the chairman of Swiss engineering group ABB told local television. (Reporting by Atul Prakash)