LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) - European shares were seen opening slightly lower on Wednesday following a strong rebound in the previous session.
At 0630 GMT, EuroSTOXX 50 futures were down 0.1 percent, German DAX futures were down 0.1 percent and French CAC futures were flat. UK FTSE futures were up 0.2 percent, with several UK companies reporting earnings and Bank of England minutes due to be released.
Financials were in focus, with UBS saying it had settled a probe by U.S. authorities over alleged rigging of currency markets by agreeing to pay $545 million in combined fines and pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud in a separate matter.
There was also more talk of deal-making in the telecoms sector, with France’s Altice close to buying Suddenlink and having held talks to buy Time Warner Cable. Liberty Global Chairman John Malone was also reported as saying a merger with Vodafone would be a “great fit”.
Pan-European shares hit their highest level in three weeks on Tuesday after comments by the European Central Bank’s Benoit Coeure pointed to a more aggressive roll-out of the ECB’s bond-buying programme.
“Some of that (bullish) heat looks set to tail off a little today,” said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.
The Swiss bank said on Wednesday it has settled a probe by U.S. authorities over alleged rigging of currency markets by agreeing to pay $545 million in combined fines and pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud in a separate matter.
U.S. banks JPMorgan and Citigroup and Britain’s Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are expected to plead guilty to criminal charges with the U.S. Department of Justice related to forex manipulation, people familiar with the matter said.
The French telecommunications group has held talks to buy Time Warner Cable Inc and is close to buying smaller peer Suddenlink, moving into the U.S cable market, according to people familiar with the matter.
A merger with Vodafone Group Plc would be a “great fit” for Liberty Global Plc in western Europe, Liberty Chairman John Malone said on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.
The British retailer posted its first rise in annual profit in four years and said it would return excess cash to shareholders, fuelling hopes that it has finally rediscovered a successful formula.
Fitch downgraded Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Aareal Bank in a swathe of ratings action on European banks.
Luxury goods maker Burberry posted a 7 percent rise in underlying full-year pretax profit on Wednesday, beating analyst expectations, but cautioned it was seeing increased uncertainty in some of its markets.
The French cement company said in a statement that a planned reorganisation of central functions ahead of its merger with Swiss peer Holcim would result in some 380 net job losses, of which 166 would be in France.
The Mercedes-Benz truck unit said on Tuesday it had dismissed 500 workers at a Brazilian truck plant and is putting about 7,000 others on paid leave as it suspends production in the face of plunging sales.
United Technologies Corp is in talks with potential buyers for its Sikorsky Aircraft business, according to four people familiar with the situation. Airbus Group, Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp are exploring their options for a deal, but a steep $3 billion tax bill associated with an outright sale of Sikorsky continues to dampen the interest of big companies, the sources said.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares slip, but Japan GDP surprise lifts Nikkei > US STOCKS-Stocks end mixed; Dow creeps up to new record high > Nikkei hits fresh 15-year high after Japan GDP beats expectations > TREASURIES-U.S. bonds slip on housing data, corporate supply > FOREX-Dollar hits 2-month high vs yen, buoyed by US housing data > PRECIOUS-Gold hit by robust dollar ahead of Fed minutes > METALS-Nickel hits one-month low as stockpiles surge > Oil prices rise on strong Japan, Australia economic data
Reporting by Lionel Laurent