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LIVE MARKETS-Opening snapshot: financials help limit STOXX losses

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Opening snapshot: financials help limit STOXX losses (0812 GMT)

European shares are down in early dealing, with commodity stocks leading losers but M&A

newsflow in the insurance sector and well-received results from some banks are boosting the

financial sector, helping limit the STOXX decline to 0.3 percent.

The UK's FTSE is down 0.3 percent ahead of the Bank of England policy meeting.

Telecoms are also in the spotlight with TDC (LSE: 0MOP.L - news) up 20 percent after the Danish telecoms

operator turned down an indicative takeover bid from Australia's Macquarie and three pension


Here's your snapshot:

(Danilo Masoni)



European shares’ recovery rally looks set for an abrupt ending on Thursday with futures

pointing to losses of 0.7 to 0.9 percent after weaker trading on Wall Street and in Asia.

Earnings, which took a back seat earlier this week amid the global market turmoil, are

coming in thick and fast with several big European banks and industrial firms reporting.

Societe Generale (Swiss: 519928.SW - news) and Commerzbank (Xetra: CBK100 - news) both reported declining profits,

blaming weak markets and restructuring, while Italy's UniCredit (EUREX: DE000A163206.EX - news) swung to a profit in


Oil major Total (LSE: 524773.L - news) , whose shares fell sharply this week as crude prices tumbled,

reported soaring profit, raising its dividend and planning a share buyback.

And as we detailed just now, some surprising M&A news should liven up the insurance sector.

(Helen Reid)



Insurance stocks are definitely on the watchlist with some interesting M&A newsflow that

could liven up the session with Swiss Re (LSE: 0QL6.L - news) set to lead the dance after surprise news

that Japan's SoftBank (Swiss: SOFB.SW - news) is in talks to buy a minority stake in the Swiss reinsurer.

"Yesterday’s announcement is totally surprising," says Baader Bank Helvea analyst Daniel

Bischof. "However, given SoftBank’s technology-vision, Swiss Re makes sense as a target given

its extraordinary research & development capabilities which distinguish Swiss Re from

competition and make the company a knowledge powerhouse," he added.

Swiss Re shares are seen up 5 percent following the news. The deal is reported to be worth

10 billion or more.

Still in the sector, a source-based Bloomberg report said yesterday that Bermuda-based

insurer XL Group (NYSE: XL - news) attracting interest from rivals including Allianz SE (LSE: 0M6S.L - news) of Germany.

And there are also some earnings updates. Zurich Insurance (IOB: 0QP2.IL - news) reported

better-than-expected earnings as the insurer dealt with a raft of natural catastrophe losses and

a sluggish investment environment.

(Danilo Masoni)



Oil group Total raises dividend and plans share buyback as 2017 profit soars

Swiss Re in talks with SoftBank, Japanese firm could take minority stake

Italy's UniCredit swings to 2017 profit

SocGen (Paris: FR0000130809 - news) quarterly profit plunges although results top expectations

Commerzbank profit declines in Q4 amid weak markets and restructuring

Compass Group (Other OTC: CMPGF - news) sees FY organic revenue growth at top end of forecast

ABB (LSE: 0NX2.L - news) sees brighter outlook after Q4 net profit drops

Digital shake-up drives Publicis (Paris: FR0000130577 - news) to revise down profit target for 2018

Hermes sales growth slows in Q4, but margins to hit record in 2017

Akzo Nobel (Amsterdam: AKZA.AS - news) warns of 130 mln euros in 'transformation' costs

Norway's Yara Q4 lags forecast, proposes smaller dividend

Voestalpine (IOB: 0MKX.IL - news) 's Q3 net profit boosted by strong steel demand

Pernod Ricard (TLO: RI-U.TI - news) raises profit goal after forecast-beating H1 results

TalkTalk to raise cash after cutting forecasts​

Britain looking closely at Melrose (LSE: 136541.L - news) bid for GKN - PM May

Bayer (IOB: 0P6S.IL - news) -Monsanto (Hamburg: 1132157.HM - news) deal edges closer to Brazil antitrust approval

Smith & Nephew (Frankfurt: 502816 - news) meets lower end of guidance range for 2017

U.S. FDA approves Gilead triple HIV drug, GSK venture files lawsuit

Zurich Insurance beats 2017 profit estimates, raises dividend

Finland's Solidium sells Telia stake for 5.1 bln SEK

Thomas Cook (Frankfurt: A0MR3W - news) expands airline business by 10 pct for this summer

TDC rejects takeover offer from Macquarie, Danish funds

ArcelorMittal (LSE: 0NSF.L - news) to top Brazil's long steel output after Votorantim deal -exec

Ashmore says H1 assets up 18 pct on inflows, market gains

Airbus says may increase A400M provision

France's Vinci (LSE: 0NQM.L - news) optimistic on 2018 prospects

Stronger sales at European shopping centres help boost Klepierre (LSE: 0F4I.L - news) 's cash flow

Swiss watchdog in touch with Credit Suisse (IOB: 0QP5.IL - news) over volatility ETN

AA (Frankfurt: A116XA - news) sees FY core profit of 390-395 mln stg

UK's Bellway (Frankfurt: 869646 - news) sees 14 pct rise in first-half housing revenue

Britain's Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE.L - news) quarterly sales volume picks up pace

(Tom Pfeiffer)



It certainly looks like a weaker session for European stocks ahead, with futures down 0.5 to

0.8 percent.

Results from UK companies including Thomas Cook, TalkTalk, DFS Furniture (Frankfurt: DF0.F - news) , and Sophos, are

just hitting the wire.

M&A activity could also liven up today's session with Swiss Re's shares seen

opening up 5 percent after the reinsurer said it was in talks with SoftBank on a

potential minority stake.

(Helen Reid)



Nevertheless there are other events in Europe today which should grab investors' attention,

with results still rolling in from big corporate players.

Banks are at the forefront today with Societe Generale reporting forecast-beating

results despite quarterly profit plunging on tax-related and restructuring costs.

Commerzbank also flagged a 51 percent decline in Q4 profit, blaming weak

markets and its overhaul.

Other notable results include truck maker Volvo, which reported record profit,

and Swiss engineering group ABB, which gave a brighter outlook for the year.

We'll also be closely watching the Bank of England's rate decision and inflation report -

particularly considering the past week's jitters over inflation.

SocGen analysts expect the BoE (Shenzhen: 000725.SZ - news) to slightly raise growth and inflation forecasts.

"The MPC will be happy to see that the money market is now taking seriously its message of

further tightening," they write. "However the market has brought forward the expected timing of

rate increases compared to its view three months ago quite aggressively, and even though we

expect the tone of the report to be slightly more hawkish, we think it might not be enough to

validate the current Overnight Index Swap curve."

(Helen Reid)



Good morning and welcome to Live Markets.

That was nice while it lasted! European stocks are set to fall back again after a

short-lived recovery bounce yesterday, as Wall Street and Asian markets lost steam overnight.

Looks like those calls for volatility to stay high in the short- to medium-term were prescient.

Asian shares hovered near six-week lows as U.S. bond yields headed towards four-year highs,

keeping pressure on investors spooked by signs of rising inflation.

Spreadbetters call the DAX 108 points lower at 12,482, the CAC 40 down 47 points at 5,208.8,

and the FTSE down 56 points at 7,223.2. The damage done in the past fortnight is considerable:

the DAX ended yesterday 7.4 percent down from its record high hit as recently as Jan 23.

(Helen Reid)


(Reporting by Danilo Masoni, Helen Reid, Kit Rees and Julien Ponthus)