(Updates futures prices, adds company news)
LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - European equities were expected to open sharply higher on Thursday, tracking gains in Asia after oil prices rallied following a weakness in the dollar.
Oil jumped 8 percent in the previous session and extended gains on Thursday, with investors shrugging off data showing an unexpectedly large surge in U.S. crude inventories to record highs, and focusing on a weaker U.S. currency that made dollar-priced commodities cheaper for other currency holders.
Unconfirmed talk of producers potentially meeting to discuss output cuts also supported the oil market.
By 0745 GMT, futures for the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX, France's CAC and Britain's FTSE were up 1.4 to 1.8 percent.
Investors' focus will be on company earnings. According to Thomson Reuters StarMine data, out of the companies on the STOXX 600 index to have reported fourth quarter earnings so far, 52 percent have beaten or met expectations, while 48 percent have missed.
Among major companies, Credit Suisse posted its first full-year loss since 2008 as it booked a big impairment charge for its investment banking business under new Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, while Royal Dutch Shell reported its lowest annual income in at least 13 years as slumping oil prices hit profits.
In Asia, the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped more than 2 percent, while Australia's resource-heavy benchmark index was up 2.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.5 percent as trade wound down ahead of the Lunar holidays. However, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.9 percent on a stronger yen.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 1.6 percent lower on Wednesday.
Credit Suisse posted its first full-year loss since 2008 as it booked a big impairment charge for its investment banking business under new Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam.
Europe's largest oil company reported its lowest annual income in at least 13 years as slumping oil prices hit profits. Shell, whose shareholders last week approved its takeover of rival BG Group , said 2015 income fell 87 percent year on year to $1.94 billion, in line with analysts' estimates.
The drugmaker expects a low to mid single-digit percentage decline in earnings in 2016 as the arrival of cheap generic copies of cholesterol fighter Crestor offsets growth in sales of new medicines.
Mobile phone company Vodafone met expectations with a 1.4 percent rise in revenue in its third quarter, its sixth consecutive quarter of growth, as recovery in Europe gained pace.
State-controlled Finnish refiner Neste, helped by high European refining margins, reported quarterly profits and dividend proposal ahead of market expectations.
Swedish builder Skanska reported on Thursday a bigger drop than expected in fourth-quarter order intake, while operating profit rose more than expected.
The Netherlands' largest lender reported better than expected fourth quarter earnings on Thursday, with strength at its German operations and a fall in provisions for bad loans.
Telecommunications group Swisscom posted a 20.2 drop in full-year net income after price reductions for roaming fees, fallout from the strong Swiss franc and tougher competition hurt its business.
LafargeHolcim Ltd is reviewing its divestment plan in India after talks with Birla Corporation Limited (BCL) for the sale of the Jojobera and Sonadih cement plants in Eastern India fell through, it said on Thursday.
State-owned China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) plans for a mix of recourse and non-recourse loans to fund a $43 billion bid for Swiss seeds and pesticides group Syngenta, Thomson Reuters LPC said on Thursday, citing banking sources familiar with the plans.
The Belgian telecommunications group posted a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit as it took an additional provision for a tax on mobile phone masts imposed by the regional government in the south of Belgium.
The bank must face a U.S. lawsuit seeking to hold it liable for causing $3.1 billion of investor losses by failing to properly monitor 10 trusts backed by toxic residential mortgages, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.
The Norwegian oil firm will cut its capital spending to $13 billion in 2016 from $14.7 billion in 2015, and said it would pay its dividends in cash or shares after posting fourth-quarter earnings ahead of expectations.
Top Norwegian bank DNB announced a bigger than expected increase to its dividend after reporting quarterly net earnings in line with forecasts.
The Swedish banking group reported fourth-quarter operating earnings above expectations and raised its dividend more than expected.
The French seismic survey group said it had raised 350 million euros in a rights issue that should help it weather a "long and profound crisis" in the oil services sector caused by the plunge in crude prices.
British power producer SSE said it would likely close most of the units at its 1,995-megawatt Fiddler's Ferry coal-fired plant from April 1, despite gaining a government capacity contract designed to incentivise back-up plants to stay online.
The company has backed down from its legal battle with Rangers football club and abandoned efforts to prevent disclosure of the pair's joint venture, which has made the Old Firm club about 4 pence from every pound spent in its Ibrox store, the Guardian reported. (bit.ly/1PVsMhT)
The developer of 3D software for companies posted a 24 percent rise in 2015 earnings per share and forecast double-digit percentage organic growth in new licence revenue and an increase of about 7 percent in total revenue this year.
Europe's largest maker of artificial hips and knees reported trading profit slightly ahead of consensus helped by strong demand for sports medicine in the fourth quarter, giving it confidence on growing revenues in 2016.
Union Investment has sold most of its 2.5 percent stake in the lighting group as it disapproves of the company's new strategy, according to a Handelsblatt report. (Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)