LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen edging lower on Monday, with oil firms set to be in focus as Brent crude hit an 11-year low and attention on Spanish stocks after elections.
Brent crude prices fell to levels last seen in 2004 on Monday, dropping below the lows hit during the 2008 financial crisis on renewed worries over an oil glut.
Futures on the Euro STOXX 50, France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE were 0.1-0.2 percent lower, while futures on Germany’s DAX were flat.
European shares reacted positively to a U.S. Federal Reserve decision to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade last week. However, they have already given up most of the Fed-inspired gains, with investors turning cautious and taking profits before the holiday season.
Spanish stocks were also expected to be in focus after a weekend election. Neither Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservatives nor left-wing parties won a clear mandate to govern following a historically fragmented vote in Spanish elections on Sunday, with talks to form a coalition government expected to take weeks.
“Spanish elections over the weekend may well have created a new headache for the (euro area) as support grew for anti-austerity parties which prevented the Conservate Popular Party from achieving a majority,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA said in a note.
“In fact, they were so far from it that a coalition government led by them looks very unlikely at this stage.”
Among company news, Volkswagen plans to limit the time staff can remain in certain roles, its supervisory board chairman told a German weekly, in a step to improve oversight at the German carmaker following a scandal over technology which cheated emissions tests.
Banking regulation and supervision should be merged or combined, the bank’s Chief Risk Officer Stefan Schmittmann told Boersen-Zeitung in an interview.
Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp’s CEO said an acquisition by Infineon Technologies was unlikely as he believed its top shareholder, a government-backed fund, would not sell a majority stake to a foreign buyer.
Germany’s No.2 utility is opposed to a sudden exit from brown coal generation, the most polluting fossil fuel, its chief executive told magazine Der Spiegel, adding these plants secured jobs and needed to keep running to pay for their decommissioning.
The California Air Resources Board said on Friday it was extending a deadline to approve or reject a diesel emissions repair plan submitted by Volkswagen AG for nearly 500,000 2.0 liter vehicles until Jan. 14.
Separately, Stefano Domenicali, who headed Ferrari’s Formula One team until 2014, could be appointed as the new chief executive of Volkswagen Italian brand Lamborghini, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Saturday, citing industry sources.
In addition, Volkswagen plans to limit the time staff can remain in certain roles, its supervisory board chairman told a German weekly, in a step to improve oversight at the German carmaker.
State-owned China National Chemical Corp has raised its offer to buy Syngenta AG by about $2 billion, to $44 billion, proposing a two-stage takeover of the agrochemical company, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.
ChemChina has offered 470 Swiss francs per share to buy 70 percent of Syngenta with an option to acquire the remaining 30 percent later, Bloomberg said on Friday.
Syngenta is ready to discuss deals with the whole industry, including the world’s largest seed company Monsanto, its interim Chief Executive John Ramsay told a news agency on Friday.
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Drug companies have taken too great a share of the benefits of new drug treatments but are moving to different models involving sharing more with health systems and insurers, the head of Swiss-based Novartis was quoted saying on Sunday.
Casino defended its financial health on Monday after research firm Muddy Waters, founded by short-seller Carson Block, criticised the French retailer as overvalued last week, hitting the stock.
Brazil’s Vale SA said on Sunday it will appeal a court decision to freeze some of it and BHP Billiton’s Brazilian assets, saying the ruling, which declared the two mining companies responsible for a dam burst last month, was “inappropriate.”
HSBC has appointed Rothschild for restructuring of private banking arm, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the process. (on.ft.com/1MpMavk)
Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Warren East said he feels “disquiet” about trading conditions in the unit that supplies power systems for the mining and offshore oil industries, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. (on.ft.com/1MpTiI7)
Moody’s on Friday downgraded AstraZeneca to A3 following its planned acquisitions of Acerta Pharma, ZS Pharma and Takeda Pharmaceutical respiratory assets.
China Resources Beer has chosen banks to advise on options for its Chinese brewery joint venture with SABMiller Plc, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. SABMiller is being bought over by Anheuser-Busch InBev for about 72 billion pounds ($107.4 billion). (bloom.bg/1Tbw1Pu)
The Bank of Portugal said in the early hours of Monday that the state had agreed to sell Bank Banif to Santander for 150 million euros.
Spain’s Gas Natural said on Friday it was dividing its Chilean affiliate Gasco into two parts, keeping the natural gas assets.
Germany’s largest real estate company says there is an increasing shortage of affordable and adequate housing as a result of the massive influx of migrants into Europe’s largest economy this year, its chief executive told a newspaper.
The real estate group will fight a hostile takeover bid from larger peer Vonovia, Chief Executive Michael Zahn told Welt am Sonntag, adding he will convince the company’s owners of Deutsche Wohnen alternative strategy.
Eni and Angolan state oil company Sonangol have agreed to update their plans for Sonangol’s Lobito refinery in southern Angola, Eni said in a statement on Saturday.
The Italian utility agreed on Friday to sell its 66 percent stake in the main Slovak power utility Slovenske Elektrarne to a privately-held Czech-Slovak energy investment group EPH for a preliminary price of 750 million euros ($812.70 million).
After Friday’s deal, the Slovakian government agreed with Enel that it would take an option on buying a further 17 percent stake in Slovenske Elektrarne.
Enel on Friday received approval from shareholders of its lucrative South American units to spin off their assets, the first step in a two-part process it is pursuing to shift away from European markets and focus on Latin America.
Investor in Italy’s Linea Group Holding (LGH) said on Friday offer by A2A for 51 percent of the Italian regional utility Linea envisages cash payment for 53.6 percent, the rest will be paid in A2A shares.
The power grid operator on Friday signed a five-year revolving credit facility for a total amount of 800 million euros with a pool of banks comprising Banca IMI, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria BBVA, BNP Paribas, ICBC, ING Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale, UBI Banca and UniCredit.
A suspicious device found on an Air France flight from Mauritius to Paris that prompted an emergency landing was harmless and caused a “false alarm”, the airline’s chief executive said on Sunday.
Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin told Le Figaro he expected consolidation among hotel chains to accelerate, with the existing six or seven major hotel groups possibly becoming just two or three. Bazin said AccorHotels had the means to take part, but questioned whether it was necessary.
The maker of switches said it bought QMotion, a specialist in natural light control for residential buildings. Based in Florida, QMotion has 80 employees and annual sales of around $16 million.
The ad company said it bought Gemini Healthcare LLC, a healthcare marketing, communications and consulting agency with revenue of over $5 million.
The car parts maker announced the acquisition of Germany’s Peiker to boost its position in the field of autonomous, connected vehicles. Peiker is expected to have 2015 sales of around 310 million euros, and the purchase should have a positive impact on Valeo’s results from next year, it said.
The construction group said it won a 92 million euro contract from France Galop to renovate Longchamp race course in Paris.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks edge up, oil hits fresh low > US STOCKS-Wall St slides on lower crude prices, stock options expiry > Nikkei falls after BOJ moves sour sentiment, yen strengthens > TREASURIES-Bond prices rise on safe-haven demand, dovish Fed view > FOREX-Dollar adrift in a sea of central bank uncertainty > PRECIOUS-Gold adds to gains on softer equities, dollar > METALS-London copper prices drift even as smelters eye cutbacks > Brent crude falls almost 2 percent to 2004 low
Reporting by Alistair Smout