July 16, 2012 / 5:53 AM / 5 years ago

European Factors to Watch-Shares seen mixed; focus on earnings, Bernanke

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - European shares were set for a mixed open on
Monday, with investors waiting for company earnings reports and this week's
testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to determine the
market's near-term direction.
    Investors will be looking for hints about stimulus measures during
Bernanke's biannual testimony to the U.S. Congress on the economy on Tuesday and
Wednesday after central banks from Europe, China and Brazil cut interest rates
this month to support economic growth.
    Focus will also be on a meeting of euro zone finance ministers who will
gather on Friday to put flesh on the bones of the Spanish deal, clinched in
return for a further 65 billion euros in tax increases and spending cuts
announced by Madrid last week.
    "Ahead of these events, trading is likely to be restrained," Credit Agricole
said in a note. "The many and varied uncertainties afflicting markets suggest
that positive momentum will be very limited."
    Futures for Euro STOXX 50 were up 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX
futures were up 0.2 percent, while France's CAC futures were
down 0.1 percent. Financial spreadbetters earlier predicted Britain's FTSE 100 
 to open flat.
    Investors will keep a close eye on financial stocks, with U.S. bank
Citigroup announcing results later in the session following JPMorgan Chase
& Co's statement on Friday that it lost $5.8 billion in 2012 from
disastrous credit bets. JPMorgan still managed to earn nearly $5 billion in
overall profit in the second quarter. 
    In Europe, Swedish banking group SEB warned on Monday that
Europe's austerity measures and sovereign debt woes could start to infiltrate
its traditionally robust core Nordic markets. 
    The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 1.3 percent
higher at 1,042.63 points on Friday, its highest close since July 5. U.S. Shares
   rose 1.5 to 1.7 percent.
    Japanese markets were closed on Monday for a holiday.
    
     MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0629 GMT                                 
                                               LAST     PCT CHG    NET CHG
     S&P 500                               1,356.78      1.65 %      22.02
     MSCI ASIA EX-JP                                      0.2 %       0.95
     EUR/USD                                 1.2232     -0.18 %    -0.0022
     USD/JPY                                  79.03     -0.25 %    -0.2000
     10-YR US TSY YLD                         1.488          --       0.00
     10-YR BUND YLD                           1.236          --      -0.03
     SPOT GOLD                            $1,589.40     -0.04 %     -$0.63
     US CRUDE                                $86.79     -0.36 %      -0.31
 
    * Shares extend rally on China relief, Bernanke next focus   
    * Euro holds steady vs dollar, focus on Bernanke             
    * Wall St ends six-day losing streak with a flourish         
    * Brent stays above $102                                     
    * LME copper comes off 1-wk top; China monetary policy eyed  
    * Gold inches down as investors await Bernanke outlook       
    * Bonds fall on inflation data, stock gains                  
        
    COMPANY NEWS
    GLAXOSMITHKLINE 
    The company is expected to announce an agreement to acquire Human Genome
Sciences for about $2.8 billion as soon as Monday, ending three months of its
hostile pursuit of the U.S. biotechnology company, sources familiar with the
situation said. 
    
    NOKIA  
    Nokia has cut the U.S. price of its flagship smartphone in half, barely
three months after its launch, in an effort to stanch losses in market share to
rivals such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.
 
     
    SEB 
    The Swedish banking group posted second-quarter operating profits above
forecast and warned that developments in Europe looked increasingly uncertain.  
Operating earnings at the bank in the April through June period were 3.95
billion Swedish crowns ($560.6 million), compared with the 3.33 billion seen in
a Reuters poll of analysts. 

    ACCOR 
    The French hotel group said on Monday it had acquired Mexican hotel outfit
Grupo Posadas for $275 million, in an effort to improve its exposurea to
emerging markets. 
      
    HENNES & MAURITZ 
    The world's second-largest apparel retailer's annual sales growth at stores
open a year or more was flat in June, at 3 percent in local currencies, lagging
a Reuters poll forecast for a 5 percent rise.  

    POSTNL 
    The Dutch mail group may not pay a dividend over 2012 if the takeover of TNT
Express, of which PostNL owns almost a third, is delayed for a long
time, a PostNL spokesman was quoted as saying in Dutch daily Het Financieele
Dagblad. 
    
    DEUTSCHE POST 
    Europe's largest mail carrier had a "very good" first quarter and the trend
had continued on to the second quarter, a German daily said on Saturday, citing
Chief Executive Frank Appel. 
     
    VODAFONE 
    The British mobile telecoms group is poised to secure a $4.5 billion
windfall from its American venture. The payout is likely to be approved this
week at a board meeting of Verizon Wireless, the British company's mobile phone
joint venture in the U.S., The Sunday Times said.   

    VOLKSWAGEN 
    The carmaker reinforced its apparent immunity from the crisis engulfing
Europe's auto industry, reporting a hefty sales rise and staying on course for
another record year. 
    
    BHP BILLITON 
    The world's largest mining company has decided to pull out of Guinea,
putting its Mount Nimba iron ore project up for sale, the Sunday Times reported.
 
    
    BP 
    The billionaire co-owners of Anglo-Russian oil venture TNK-BP 
would be willing to sell their stake to the British oil major for cash and stock
to put an end to a bitter shareholder conflict, Stan Polovets, the CEO of the
AAR consortium - through which a quartet of investors own half of TNK-BP - said
in an interview with Reuters on Sunday. 
     
    ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND 
    Direct Line, Britain's biggest motor insurer run by government-owned RBS, is
a takeover target for private equity groups looking to pre-empt what would be
one of the biggest initial public offerings in London this year. 

    UNIPOL, FONDIARIA 
    Italian insurers Unipol and Fondiaria said on Friday 11 banks had agreed to
underwrite their twin 1.1 billion euro capital increases starting July 16, one
of the last steps necessary for their planned merger.

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