(Adds futures prices, analyst comment)
LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) - European equity futures fell on Friday, with some traders citing ongoing concerns over Greece as the main driver for investors trimming back positions to take profits on the region’s stock market rally so far this year.
The euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 futures contract fell 0.2 percent. Germany’s DAX futures contract declined by 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC futures contract fell 0.1 percent.
Greece’s economic and political situation remains a concern for many investors, although the Athens stock market ended higher on Thursday after the country’s Prime Minister told Reuteres that he was “firmly optimistic” about reaching an agreement with creditors by the end of April despite friction over issues such as pension and labour reforms.
“I think the Greece situation will be resolved but we’ve had a massive up-turn on the stock markets so far this year, and the underlying concerns are causing some people to take a bit of money off the table,” said Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management.
European stock markets have risen to multi-year peaks this year, and both the UK’s FTSE 100 and the DAX have set record highs this year, with new economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank (ECB) helping to offset worries about Greece.
> Asian shares at fresh 7-yr high, look past weak US data > US STOCKS-Wall St ends slightly lower as earnings worries linger > Nikkei drops on weak U.S. data, investors eye earnings next week > Bonds end slightly stronger as investors weigh growth outlook > FOREX-Dollar hovers near 1-week low ahead of G20, U.S. inflation > PRECIOUS-Gold holds below $1,200, poised for second weekly dip > METALS-London tin set for 11 pct weekly loss as demand falters > Brent crude oil prices fall as OPEC production soars
Lafarge and Holcim gave details on Friday of asset disposals in the United States that they propose as part of their planned merger, due to close in July.
Nestle, the world’s leading packaged food maker, reported slightly better-than-expected first-quarter sales on Friday, helped by price increases.
Syngenta, the world’s largest maker of crop chemicals, on Friday maintained its full-year targets after posting a bigger-than-expected fall in first-quarter sales.
A top-level Volkswagen AG committee meeting to try to resolve a leadership crisis caused by a rift between its chief executive and chairman ended after less than three hours but VW did not make the results public on Thursday.
Europe’s largest hotel group said sales growth accelerated in the first-quarter, driven by robust demand for hotel rooms across most regions.
Billionaire businessman Vincent Bollore is likely to tighten his hold on French media group Vivendi when shareholders decide on Friday whether to give long-term investors double voting rights. Behind him is an influential backer: the government.
Renault SA urged the French state, its biggest shareholder, to back down from plans to increase its voting weight in the carmaker - warning that the balance of power within its alliance with Nissan Motor Co Ltd was at risk.
Sweden’s SKF, the world’s biggest bearings maker, reported a rise in first quarter earnings in line with forecast on Friday and said it expected demand in the second quarter to be relatively unchanged.
JPMorgan Securities, which manages assets for high-wealth individuals, has taken a 5.35 percent stake in Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML, the Dutch Authority for Financial Markets reported on Friday.
Alliance Trust Chairwoman Karin Forseke sought to rally support in a fight to derail Elliott Advisors’ plan to overhaul her board on Friday, asking investors to consider who they “trust” to run the 126-year old firm.
German lighting maker Osram raised its forecast for 2015 profitability on Thursday after its second-quarter results were boosted by favourable currency effects. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Atul Prakash)