European Factors to Watch-Shares head for best week in 8 months

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 07:50 hrs

LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - European shares were expected to open higher on Friday, with investors seen riding on a positive momentum after the previous session's strong rally following the Federal Reserve's move to only modestly cut stimulus measures.

Some investors could be tempted to take profits in the last trading days of the year after gains of about 3 percent for the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index this week, which is up by more than 13 percent this year, analysts said. The index was on track for its best weekly gain in eight months.

At 0737 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were 0.1 to 0.5 percent higher.

"With the big 'will they or won't they' FOMC meeting now behind us, markets are expected to be much quieter in the lead up to Christmas, with trading volumes significantly reduced and the economic calendar looking very thin," Capital Spreads wrote in a research note.

"Today is one of the four occasions in the year when we have a triple witching. This can create a surge in volatility, particularly towards the end of the day," it said, referring to the expiry of contracts for stock index futures, stock index options and stock options.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1.8 percent to 1,281.87 points on Thursday, its biggest one-day gain since September, after the Fed announced to phase out its stimulus plan more gently than many had expected.

Germany's DAX share index could outperform the wider market after data showed early on Friday that German consumer morale hit its highest level in nearly 6-1/2 years heading into January as shoppers became more willing to splash their cash.

In the overseas markets, Chinese stocks stumbled on concerns over a renewed cash crunch. China's benchmark money market rate climbed to a six-month high despite attempts by the central bank to calm sentiment, showing signs of a scramble for cash reminiscent of a massive crunch that occurred in June.

U.S. equities finished mostly flat on Thursday.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- > Cash crunch fears hit China stocks, yen at 5-year low vs dollar > Dow inches up to record close on quiet trading day > Nikkei takes breather after Fed move; BOJ in focus > Bond prices fall a day after Fed announces $10 bln taper > Dollar buoyant as Fed taper lifts U.S. Treasury yields > Gold drops to 6-mth low on taper sell-off, could fall further > Copper bounces after 3-day retreat, smaller LME stocks help > Brent slips below $110, set for weekly rise



Production at the giant Johan Sverdrup oil and gas field in the North Sea will be delayed by a year to the end of 2019, a partner in the field, Statoil said on Friday.


Peer Nike Inc's quarterly profit rose as higher margin products made up a bigger share of its sales, and the sportswear maker said global orders for merchandise for delivery by April increased 13 percent.


A unit of Deutsche Bank AG won dismissal Thursday of a $330 million mortgage securities lawsuit, in a victory for banks who claim the statute of limitations has expired on many such cases.


Striking workers at French oil major Total's refineries shut a fourth plant on Thursday, keeping 700,000 barrels per day of capacity shut as the dispute over wages dragged on.


Thales, Europe's largest defence electronics group, aims to double its sales in Germany, its fourth-largest market, the head of its German unit said in a newspaper interview.


French telecoms group Bouygues Telecom will next year offer cut-price fixed-line Internet connections to counter its rival Free, Bouygues CEO Martin Bouygues told a newspaper.


Talks between Niger and Areva on renewing the French state-controlled nuclear group's uranium mining licences will be extended by up to three months after they failed to clinch a deal ahead of a year-end deadline, sources said.


France expanded the government's powers to monitor phone and Internet connection data without judicial review as a last-minute opposition attempt to block the move failed to gather support. The proposed law had come under fire from telecom operators such as Orange and Internet advocacy groups.


Saint-Gobain has signed an agreement for the sale of its U.S.-based Fiber Cement siding business to Plycem USA, a subsidiary of Elementia of Mexico. Financial terms were not disclosed.


Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is in early-stage talks over a possible 300 million euro ($413 million) investment in Alitalia, a political source close to the matter said, which could help rescue the loss-making Italian airline.


Loss-making French telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent has decided to sell its unit that supplies telephone systems to big companies, the CFDT union said on Thursday.


Global and European regulators have softened proposed new rules for securitisation in an attempt to kick-start a financing tool tarnished by the financial crisis.


The market research company is bracing for a "significant" drop in earnings as the company is adjusting goodwill by 112.5 million euros ($153.77 million).


Embattled outsourcing company Serco is braced for a challenging year ahead despite confidence it has done enough to be given the all-clear in January to sign new contracts with the British government, its chairman said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

More from Sify: