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LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen opening steady on Monday, although further signs of economic weakness in China and a fall in oil prices were set to keep markets under pressure.
Financial spreadbetters at IG expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open up by 23 points, or 0.4 percent higher. Germany's DAX to open up by 22 points, or 0.2 percent higher, and France's CAC 40 to open up by 1 point, or unchanged in percentage terms.
Asian stocks started a new month on a cautious note on Monday, with the Bank of Japan's surprise policy easing sparking some buying, although Chinese shares fell.
Chinese shares stumbled lower on Monday after an official measure of activity in the giant factory sector fell to its lowest since mid-2012, offering no respite from the economic drift that has dogged markets for months.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 2.3 percent on Friday but fell by some 6 percent over the course of January - its worst monthly drop at the start of a year since 2008.
The banking sector could be in focus after Barclays and Credit Suisse settled U.S. federal and state charges that they misled investors in their dark pools, while Banco Popolare said on Saturday it expected to agree a merger with Banca Popolare di Milano within a month.
Barclays and Credit Suisse have settled federal and state charges that they misled investors in their dark pools, with Barclays admitting it broke the law and agreeing to pay $70 million, federal and New York state officials said on Sunday.
Banco Popolare said on Saturday it expected to agree a merger with Banca Popolare di Milano within a month, signalling the start of a long awaited consolidation of Italy's fragmented banking sector.
Credit Suisse looks set to post its first full-year loss since 2008 this week, with a write-down at its investment bank adding to pressure on Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam to show his turn-around plan is achievable.
Europe's largest lender, HSBC, is imposing a hiring and pay freeze across the bank globally in 2016, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Finland's Nokia on Monday settled its patent dispute with Korea's Samsung, saying the arbitration verdict will boost its patent sales by hundreds of millions of euros.
Renault plans to put China at the centre of its strategic plan for 2017-2022, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Monday at the inauguration of the firm's first assembly plant in Wuhan, central China.
Ryanair on Monday reaffirmed its full-year profit forecast after higher passenger numbers offset lower fares and said it would return 800 million euros ($867 million) to shareholders through a share buyback.
Volkswagen is not under pressure to sell its trucks business to raise cash as it faces billions of euros in costs after admitting to rigging emissions tests, management board member Andreas Renschler told a German newspaper. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks edge up after Japan policy boost; debt shines > US STOCKS-Wall Street surges at end of awful January > Tokyo's Nikkei share average rises 2.07 pct > TREASURIES-Yields fall after Japan unveils negative interest rates > FOREX-Yen chilled by sub-zero rates for now, speculation ECB may ease subdues euro > PRECIOUS-Gold extends gains after best month in a year > METALS-London copper falls as China factory activity shrinks > Oil prices slip on weak Asian data, fading prospect of output cut (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)