European Factors to Watch-Shares set to fall for 2nd day

Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:45am GMT

PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - European stocks are set to fall on Thursday,
retreating for the second day in a row after data showed stalled U.S. economic
growth and Saipem's profit warning spurred worries about the earnings
season.
    Late on Wednesday, Italy's market regulator Consob said it has banned short
selling on the shares of the Italian oil service group, after they plunged 34
percent. 
    At 0735 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX 
and for France's CAC were down 0.2-0.3 percent.        
    The retreat could be limited, however, after U.S. Federal Reserve pledged to
keep its stimulus policy in place, saying the measures were needed to lower
unemployment. 
    On Wednesday, data showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly contracted in the
fourth quarter, hit by a slowdown in inventory investment and a drop in
government spending.
    
    The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index has surged 3.7
percent so far this year, hitting a 18-month high on Wednesday morning, before
surrendering gains. 
    "This would be a nice pace over a quarter, but it looks too fast for a
month, there's a danger of overheating," David Thebault, head of quantitative
sales trading, at Global Equities said.
    "The market has been expecting sluggish growth and poor earnings, but the
unexpected risk shaping up right now is the currency war, something that has not
yet been priced in and something that could be very disruptive for equities.
It's time to hedge the portfolios and to buy volatility," he said.
    Shares in pharmaceutical firms will be in the spotlight after AstraZeneca's
 new boss warned on Thursday the drugmaker faced a tough year in 2013,
with sales expected to fall by a mid-to-high single digit percentage rate as
patent expiries continue to erode business. 
    Banking stocks will also be in focus, as Spain's biggest lender Santander
 said its 2012 net profit had more than halved, missing forecasts, hurt
by writedowns on soured property assets at home while profit from key growth
spots such as Latin America also fell. 
    The Euro STOXX 50 has surged 33 percent since mid-2012, propelled in part by
bold central bank action to revive economic growth and resolve the euro zone
debt crisis.
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 MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0733 GMT                            
                                         LAST  PCT CHG  NET CHG
 S&P 500                             1,501.96  -0.39 %    -5.88
 NIKKEI                             11,138.66   0.22 %    24.71
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP                       556.01  -0.39 %    -2.15
 EUR/USD                               1.3549  -0.13 %  -0.0018
 USD/JPY                                90.85  -0.24 %  -0.2200
 10-YR US TSY YLD                       1.981       --    -0.01
 10-YR BUND YLD                         1.682       --    -0.04
 SPOT GOLD                          $1,677.00   0.02 %    $0.30
 US CRUDE                              $97.73  -0.21 %    -0.21
 
  > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares off highs, Fed's stance supportive 
  > Wall St ends lower after Fed statement 
  > Nikkei rises to 33-month high, posts best January gain in 15 years 
  > TREASURIES-Bonds firm, 10-year yield dips below 2 pct mark 
  > FOREX-Euro near 14-mth high after Fed sticks to stimulus 
  > Gold holds near 1-wk high on Fed; TOCOM hits record 
  > LME copper near 2013 high on brightening global outlook 
  > Brent rises above $115, hits highest since Oct on economic hopes 
    
    COMPANY NEWS:
    
    SAIPEM 
    Italy's market regulator Consob said on Wednesday it had decided to ban
short selling in the shares of Italian oil service group Saipem starting on
Thursday. 

    BANCA MONTE DEI PASCHI DI SIENA 
    Moody's said on Wednesday it had placed the Ba2 rating of Italy's No. 3 bank
Monte dei Paschi di Siena on review for a possible downgrade to reflect
uncertainty over the impact of a number of structured trades. 
    
    ROYAL DUTCH SHELL 
    Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch/Shell pledged an ambitious 4.7 percent
increase in its quarterly dividend on Thursday and pushed ahead with plans to
deliver more oil and gas despite an uncertain outlook for some parts of the
world economy. Traders expect the stock to open lower as its fourth quarter
profit of $5.582 billion fell short of the expected $6.2 billion. 
    
    ERICSSON 
    The company reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter core profit and
revenue growth on Thursday, raising hopes the world's top mobile telecom gear
maker is beginning to shake off the global downturn. 
    
    STMICROELECTRONICS 
    The chipmaker posted a quarterly net loss and said it could need as much as
$500 million to get out of its struggling mobile chip joint venture with
Ericsson. 
    
    UNIBAIL RODAMCO 
    European real-estate group Unibail Rodamco named a new chief executive on
Wednesday and said it would boost earnings power in 2013 on the back of new
shopping-mall developments and tenants' sales. 
    
    CREDIT AGRICOLE 
    The French bank may soon warn investors that its fourth-quarter accounts
will be hit by new provisions, French daily Le Figaro reported, without citing
its sources. A spokeswoman for Credit Agricole declined to commment.
 
    
    ASTRAZENECA 
    The company's new boss warned on Thursday the drugmaker faced a tough year
in 2013, with sales expected to fall by a mid-to-high single digit percentage
rate as patent expiries continue to erode business. 

    GDF SUEZ 
    France's highest administrative court annulled government-imposed limits on
2011 and 2012 gas price increases for consumers, paving the way for
normalisation of a market distorted by years of state curbs. 
    
    UNICREDIT 
    Italy's UniCredit said it had raised around 890 million euros from the sale
of a 9.1 percent stake in Poland's No. 2 bank Pekao on Wednesday,
confirming what sources had told Reuters. 
    
     SIEMENS 
     After delivery delays for Siemens' ICE trains, the head of the high speed
rail unit, Ansgar Brockmeyer is stepping aside, a Siemens spokesman said,
confirming a report in Handelsblatt newspaper. Brockmeyer's replacement from
Feb. 1 will be Juergen Wilder, currently strategy head at Infrastructure and
Cities. Related news 
    
    BAYER 
    Bayer said it was "surprised" by the decision of France's health regulator
ANSM to suspend sales of its acne pill Diane 35, which is also used as a
contraceptive, adding that it would work to answer any questions the regulator
might have. 
    
    DAIMLER 
    Daimler Trucks is looking to lay off as much as a tenth of its assembly line
workforce in the United States due to a decline in orders for commercial
vehicles. 
    
    RENAULT 
    A proposed pay freeze at French carmaker Renault's domestic
operations for this year will also affect the group's managers but not
necessarily its chief executive Carlos Ghosn, a senior executive said on
Wednesday. 
    
    NOVO NORDISK 
    Danish group Novo Nordisk raised its sales and profit forecasts for 2013
when posting record full-year year results, aided by strong sales of modern
insulins and diabetes drug Victoza.
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