UPDATE 2-South Africa grants Barclays Africa immunity in FX rigging probe
* Door open for banks to apply for immunity (Adds quotes, details)
LONDON, Jan 10 European stocks are seen opening firmly on Thursday, with key indexes poised to test fresh multi-month highs after stronger-than-expected Chinese trade data offered fresh proof of a tentative global economic recovery. At 0729 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE 100 were each up 0.1 percent, while those for France's CAC were flat. The gains in the national indexes should nudge the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 to fresh 2-year highs, building on gains of 0.7 percent the previous session and heading for its best week in a month and a half. Iron ore imports in China, the world's top buyer, hit a record high in December. The positive news for the international mining sector will likely be balanced against an intensifying cyclone bearing down on Australia's west coast mining region. Exports out of China grew 3-1/2 times faster than expected last month, flagging a cautious economic improvement globally, although the figures remained weak historically. "The headline is obviously good," said Ioan Smith, strategist at Knight Capital. "There is evidence to suggest that South East Asia is stabilising but in the overall global macro picture there will still be some concern." The Chinese figures helped boost Asian stock markets overnight, while Wall Street also closed higher thanks to a relatively solid start to the quarterly reporting season. So far, 5 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported, with only one in three missing earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine. In Europe, the results season is not due to start in earnest for another week, although trading updates so far this week have been mixed. On Thursday, Tesco, the world's largest retailer reported a rise in underlying Christmas sales but said its full year outlook was unchanged and the climate in Central Europe remained tough. "There is still a lot of caution out there and it feels as if they will wait to get an idea of how the earnings season is shaping up and what that waits for the economy going forward," Smith at Knight Capital said. The economic picture, though, is not seen as weak enough to prompt any fresh stimulus measures from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, both of which are widely seen announcing unchanged policy on Thursday. "We are with consensus solidly behind the no change view for both central banks," economist at UBS said in a note. "(ECB President Mario) Draghi is likely to take comfort from the recent recovery in risk appetite and as such the Governing Council is likely to shy away from the negative interest rate discussions for which there was some appetite late last year," they added. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0729 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,461.02 0.27 % 3.87 NIKKEI 10,652.64 0.7 % 74.07 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 0.59 % 3.30 EUR/USD 1.3059 -0.03 % -0.0004 USD/JPY 88.19 0.36 % 0.3200 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.871 -- 0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 1.480 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,659.20 0.12 % $1.91 US CRUDE $93.58 0.52 % 0.48 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Strong China trade data underpins risk assets > US STOCKS-Wall Street rises after Alcoa reports earnings > Japan's Nikkei climbs on weaker yen, strong China data > Prices near flat as gov't debt ceiling debate looms > Yen near 2-1/2-year low, Aussie up on strong China data > Gold hovers below $1,660/oz; eyes on ECB > Copper climbs after brightening China trade data > Brent inches up towards $112 as China data beats expectations COMPANY NEWS VODAFONE The CEO of Verizon Communications said that the group was not in talks with Vodafone about taking full ownership of their Verizon Wireless venture, despite market speculation this week that such a deal could happen. TESCO The world's third largest retailer, named a new British leader as it showed signs of a revival in its home market with a rise in underlying Christmas sales. RIO TINTO The world's second-largest iron ore producer, has suspended shiploading at the ports of Dampier and Cape Lambert due to a cyclone intensifying on the western coast of Australia. BANKS Morgan Stanley plans to slash 1,600 jobs in what may be just the beginning of a new round of layoffs at large investment banks, this time driven by a deeper reassessment of Wall Street businesses in the face of new regulations and capital standards. MARKS & SPENCER The British retailer reported a bigger-than-expected drop in non-food sales in the Christmas quarter after deciding to offer fewer discounts just as Debenhams and other rivals were offering more. FIAT The minority owner of Chrysler Group LLC on Wednesday pushed the U.S. automaker to take the first step toward becoming a public company again by demanding that company parent Fiat SpA register shares with U.S. regulators. MAN, VW Volkswagen moved to tighten its grip over MAN on Wednesday, saying it wished to take full control over the Munich-based truck maker. [ ID:nL5E9C9CHU] SUEDZUCKER Suedzucker said sales in the first nine months of its 2012/13 fiscal year rose to 6.046 billion euros ($7.9 billion), up 15.3 percent from 5.244 billion euros in the same time last year. ALSTOM Five consortia including companies from Brazil, China, South Korea, Spain and France have presented bids to build two hydroelectric power stations in southern Argentina requiring an investment of $5 billion. Bidders include China's Sinohydro Corp and China Gezhouba Group Corp, Brazil's Odebrecht and OAS, Alstom, South Korea's Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Spain's Isolux Corsan, Argentina's planning ministry said. PEUGEOT Banque PSA, the financial arm of the loss-making French car maker, will sign around 5 billion euros ($6.52 billion) of loans as part of an 18.5 billion euro debt rescue plan in the next few days, according to bankers. CREDIT SUISSE BlackRock Inc has won the bidding for Credit Suisse Group AG's European exchange-traded fund business, according to a source familiar with the situation. NESTLE Nestle Purina PetCare to voluntarily withdraw Waggin' Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treat products after trace amounts of antibiotic residue found in samples.
* Door open for banks to apply for immunity (Adds quotes, details)
* Sarepta Therapeutics agrees to sale of priority review voucher for $125m
* Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Inc- dosed first patient with BPX-601, first car t-cell product candidate to enter clinical studies Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: