(Updates futures prices, adds company news)
By Atul Prakash
LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - European shares headed for a slightly higher open on Friday, mirroring gains on Wall Street where the S&P 500 closed at a record high, with investors seen focusing on speeches from central bankers for hints about near-term market direction.
At 0633 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50 index Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were flat to 0.1 percent higher.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, along with other central bankers, will be addressing an ECB Forum in Portugal later in the day.
Focus will also fall on Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who is due to speak on the U.S. economic outlook before the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce late on Friday.
“Previously it looked as though the BoE and the Fed may diverge from the ECB, but growth in the U.S. and the UK hasn’t picked up any momentum, so bulls will be on the hunt for some dovish comments to kick-start another leg higher,” Capital Spreads dealer Jonathan Sudaria said in a note.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index headed for a fifth straight day of gains after closing 0.4 percent higher at 1619.85 points on Thursday. The index, up nearly 3 percent so far this week, headed for its best weekly gains in more than a month.
Investors will keep a close eye on company updates. Cartier owner Richemont on Friday posted an 8 percent drop in April sales at constant exchange rates as well as a lower net profit and said trading continued to remain difficult in its big markets of Hong Kong and Macau.
In the United Kingdom, market watchdog said it will open a competition probe into wholesale banking services, looking at the choice of lenders, limited transparency and bundling of services.
Deutsche Bank shareholders delivered a stinging rebuke to co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen on Thursday with only 61 percent of them voting in favour of their 2014 performances at an annual general meeting.
A U.S. appeals court on Thursday reversed a $2.46 billion judgment against HSBC in a long-running securities fraud class action stemming from a consumer finance business it bought more than a decade ago.
HSBC also said in a stock exchange filing in Hong Kong on Friday that it is exploring the sale of its Brazilian unit.
Cartier owner Richemont on Friday posted an 8 percent drop in April sales at constant exchange rates as well as a lower net profit and said trading continued to remain difficult in its big markets of Hong Kong and Macau.
BASF declared force majeure on a range of ethylene-oxide based care-chemicals products due to technical problems at some of its European production sites.
France’s troubled state-controlled nuclear group Areva is looking at the idea of a capital increase among other refinancing options, its chairman Philippe Varin told the company’s annual meeting of shareholders on Thursday.
The Financial Times reported that Engie would consider working with Areva on some business lines but is not looking for any full-blown acquisitions to help rescue the company, quoting the chief executive of the utility.
The bank said it had signed an underwriting agreement with a pool of banks to subscribe to the lender’s planned 3-billion-euro rights issue.
Vestas’s largest offshore wind turbine yet has been made the preferred choice for a huge wind park in British waters as the Danish firm strives to catch rival Siemens.
Italian investment holding company Exor said on Thursday it would not raise its $6.8 billion takeover offer for PartnerRe PRE.N but was willing to negotiate with the reinsurer if its board declared its offer superior to that of rival suitor Axis Capital Holdings.
Daimler plans to spend more 750 million euros ($834 million) to modernise its factory in Bremen, northern Germany, and hire 500 people.
British water supplier Severn Trent reported a 3.2 percent rise in full-year profit thanks to higher demand, allowing it to fulfill a pledge to pay shareholders and pay a dividend of 84.90 pence per share.
Audi intends to exercise an option in the next months to take a stake in French chemicals firm Global Bioenergies, which is developing a new biofuel, isooctane, Audi’s head of sustainable product development told Reuters.
State-owned China National Chemical Corp, better known as ChemChina, is not considering bidding for Monsanto’s herbicide business or for Swiss crop chemicals maker Syngenta, a top ChemChina executive told Reuters on Friday.
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Orange Chief Executive Stephane Richard denied any wrongdoing on Thursday after he was placed under formal investigation over allegations of complicity in the misuse of public funds in a long-running legal case.
British gas producer BG has taken full operational control of the first production facility, known as Train 1, at its Queensland Curtis LNG plant in Australia from builder Bechtel, marking the official start of commercial operations.
Renault might reconsider investment in Turkey if a labour dispute, which has stopped production at its joint venture Oyak Renault, brings instability, the French car maker’s head of Eurasia said on Thursday.
French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen and its Chinese joint venture partner Dongfeng Motor Group will open an assembly plant in Vietnam and have already begun production in Malaysia, according to a Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile spokesperson.
Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn hotels and Costa Coffee, on Friday named Lloyds Banking Group executive Alison Brittain as its new boss, succeeding Andy Harrison.
0800 DE Ifo Business Climate
1430 US ECRI Weekly
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > Asia up after Wall St. sets record high, dollar steadies > S&P ends at all-time highs but traders eye weak volume > Nikkei snaps 5-day winning streak; Market awaits BOJ outcome > U.S. bond yields fall as data renew economic concerns > Dollar eases after U.S. data disappoints, awaits Yellen > Gold poised for worst weekly drop in four as dollar strengthens > Copper headed for worst week since March as demand capped > Oil edges down but WTI set for record 10th week of gains
Reporting by Atul Prakash