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European Markets Poised For Mixed Open Amid Growth Concerns

The European markets are poised for a mixed open as global growth concerns linger. Global cues are negative, with Asian markets retreating and Wall Street stocks closing lower overnight. Meanwhile, optimistic budgetary expectations are keeping the U.K.'s FTSE 100 futures afloat.

The DAX futures are declining 99 points, the CAC 40 futures are losing 49.50 points and Swiss market futures are dropping 42 points, while Euro Stoxx 50 futures are sliding 33 points. The FTSE 100 futures are gaining 17 points.

The European markets closed to the downside Tuesday, after growth concerns for China dragged stocks lower. The German DAX retreated 1.39 percent, the French CAC 40 declined 1.32 percent and the FTSE 100 of the UK fell 1.17 percent. The Swiss Market Index dropped about 0.5 percent.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue-chip stocks fell 1.22 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, declined 1.04 percent.

On the corporate front, Dutch financial- services company ING Group, N.V. said the base salary for its chief executive officer Jan Hommen and chief financial officer Patrick Flynn in 2011 remained flat with the previous year, and that the board members including Hommen would not get a salary increase this year.

Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali SpA reported a profit for 2011 that halved from last year, hurt by significant one-time impairments amid exposure to Greek government bonds and an investment in Telco, a holding company that owns 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia SpA. The company also slashed its 2011 dividend by more than half.

Dutch consumer electronics giant Royal Philips Electronics appointed Eric Rondolat as Chief Executive Officer of Lighting and member of its Executive Committee, effective April 1.

Mediaset SpA said the difficult economic situation mainly in Italy had dragged down its fiscal 2011 earnings and revenues and also projected lower net profit for fiscal 2012, citing cautious advertising market.

Shell China Exploration and Production Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and China National Petroleum Corp. signed a production sharing contract for shale gas exploration, development and production in the Fushun-Yongchuan block in the Sichuan Basin, China.

Vodafone Group and Hutchison Whimpoa announced the appointment of Bill Morrow as the Chief Executive of their joint venture unit Vodafone Hutchison Australia.

Brenntag said it plans to grow all relevant earnings parameters in 2012. Efficiency measures will be accelerated where necessary, the chemical distributor said.

Tom Tailor said full-year net income quadrupled from last year and the company intends to pay its shareholders a dividend of 0.17 euros per share for the first time.

Computer systems and solutions provider Kontron reported an operating profit for the year and posted a 15.7 percent growth in revenue. The company also maintained its 2012 guidance.

In economic news, the minutes of the Bank of England's latest monetary policy meeting and the U.K. 2012 budget are the events that are likely to influence trading.

In Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries is losing 0.38 percent after the country lowered its outlook for commodity export earnings in 2012. Hong Kong's Hang Seng is falling 0.40 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 is sliding 0.44 percent.

The U.S. futures indicate a slightly higher open ahead of the monthly existing home sales data. In the previous session, the major averages climbed well off their early lows but still closed in the red. The Dow fell 0.5 percent, the Nasdaq edged down 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.3 percent.

Among commodities, crude for May delivery is adding $0.65 to $106.72 per barrel and April gold is rising $6.1 to $1653.1 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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