LONDON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Ahead of Europe’s first full trading day of the new year on Friday, futures contracts on European equities were flat to 0.7 percent higher for the Euro STOXX 50, France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX.
The euro fell to its lowest level in 4-1/2 years versus the dollar on Friday, after the head of the European Central Bank fanned expectations it would take bolder steps on stimulus this month.
The prospect of more stimulus measures from the ECB had helped European shares post an annual gain for 2014, with pan-European equity indexes ending Wednesday in positive territory after a turbulent year.
The following are some of the factors that may move European stocks on Friday:
COMMERZBANK Germany’s second-largest lender still aims for a return on equity (ROE) of more than 10 percent in its core business by 2016, its chief executive told a German paper.
SIEMENS China’s top two trainmakers said on Tuesday that they will merge, creating a $26 billion company able to compete with the likes of Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s Bombardier for global rail deals.
The performance of the Pimco Total Return Fund, the world’s largest bond fund, trailed most of its peers in 2014 after a turbulent year at fund manager Pimco, preliminary data from Morningstar showed on Wednesday.
VOLKSWAGEN The carmaker on Tuesday said its main factory in Wolfsburg made more than 836,000 cars in 2014, an increase of around 29,000 vehicles compared with the year-earlier period.
The UK energy company said it had received a $350 million payment from the Egyptian government following the country’s decision to repay outstanding debts to the energy industry.
SAIPEM The oil services group said on Tuesday it had been notified that no “significant” changes to the work suspension of the South Stream gas pipeline project were expected until Feb. 19, according to a statement.
A consortium led by Spanish-builder Sacyr said on Thursday it has won a $233 million settlement in a dispute over cost overruns in an expansion of the Panama Canal, half what the group had been seeking in the lawsuit.
The head of the remuneration committee at scandal-hit British grocer Tesco, Stuart Chambers, is set to step down, Tesco said on Wednesday.
FINMECCANICA, ANSALDO STS CEO Mauro Moretti aims to take a decision on the sale of the defence group’s AnsaldoBreda and Ansaldo STS transportation units by the end of January but there are hurdles that may require more time, Corriere della Sera said in an unsourced report on Wednesday, adding Italian state fund FSI may get involved in the deal to help overcome difficulties.
SALZGITTER The German steelmaker’s Europipe joint venture has been told to halt production of tubes for the scrapped South Stream pipeline project until further notice, with the suspension to hit its earnings, it said on Tuesday.
ENI Egypt paid $2.1 billion of its debt to foreign energy companies, Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said on Wednesday, a move that could improve the investment climate and ease the country’s worst energy crisis in decades. Eni is one of the majors owed money by Cairo.
The British company, which provides technology used by car insurers to assess claims, said it was in exclusive talks with an unnamed third party over a possible sale of an operating division.
British retailers are optimistic about their prospects for 2015, with a large majority expecting increased sales and higher levels of employment and investment, an industry survey showed on Thursday.
The betting company confirmed Patrick Kennedy’s resignation as a director. Andy McCue has been appointed chief executive as of Jan. 1 2015.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-EURO STARTS NEW YEAR AT NEW LOW, OIL STRUGGLES TO RALLY > US STOCKS-WALL ST LOWER BUT FINISHES YEAR WITH SOLID GAINS > TREASURIES-TREASURIES POST BEST YEAR SINCE 2011, EVEN AS U.S. ECONOMY IMPROVED > FOREX-DOLLAR SHINES AT START OF NEW YEAR, EURO HITS 2-YEAR LOW > PRECIOUS-GOLD TICKS UP WITH OIL, BUT POISED FOR THIRD WEEKLY DECLINE > METALS-COPPER DIPS, NEAR 4-1/2-YEAR LOW ON CHINESE GROWTH CONCERNS > U.S. CRUDE HITS $55.11 ON STOCK FALLS, FIRE IN OIL SUPPLY FACILITY
Reporting by Lionel Laurent