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European Shares Poised For Higher Opening

3/26/2012 2:14 AM ET

European shares are set to rise modestly on Monday, as investors hunt for bargains amid last week's sell off. Having said that, investors continue to fret about the state of the global economy and await fresh U.S. data on pending sales, due to be released later in the day for clues to near-term market outlook.

Meanwhile, Spain will be in focus after Italian Prime Minister and economist Mario Monti expressed concerns about the nation's public finances and warned the European Union is worried about "contagion" from Spain's debt crisis.

Asian markets are trading on a mixed note, as an unexpected decline in U.S. home sales in February and lingering fears about a Chinese slowdown damped the outlook for global economic growth. Copper is extending gains, while Brent futures edged below $125 a barrel on hopes of a possible resumption in production from South Sudan.

On the macroeconomic front, a report on German business confidence is due later in the European session. Business confidence is forecast to fall slightly to 109.5 in March from 109.6 in February, while the expectations index is seen improving to 102.7 from 102.3 a month ago.

Investors also await a bond auction in Germany, with the government aiming to raise a maximum of EUR 3 billion from the issue of Treasury discount paper or 'Bubills' with a maturity of 12 months.

In corporate news, International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia Airlines, is considering acquiring a stake in American Airlines to stop the carrier from being bought by a rival, media reports released over the weekend said.

NBNK Investments Plc is expected to renew its pursuit for Lloyds Banking Group's 632 retail bank branches, with a 1.5 billion pounds bid to be announced as early as Monday, reports say.

British Oil giant BP Plc has put North Sea oil assets worth about 2 billion pounds or $3.2 billion up for sale, the Sunday Times reported, citing industry sources.

Technip's U.K. entity has bagged a contract from BP and its operating partners in the U.K. North Sea-based Quad 204 project to redevelop the Schiehallion production facility.

Vodafone Group and and Indian rival Tata Communications are poised to ask for an extension of the March 29 deadline to bid for Cable & Wireless Worldwide Plc, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without citing sources.

European shares ended mostly higher on Friday, led by basic resources stocks in the wake of higher commodity prices and a surge in profits announced by Chile´s Codelco - the world´s largest copper exporter. The German DAX and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose around 0.2 percent each and France's CAC 40 added 0.1 percent, while Switzerland's SMI slipped 0.2 percent.

Likewise, U.S. shares finished a choppy session slightly higher on Friday despite downbeat news on the American home market. Sales of new homes dropped 1.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313000 homes, marking the second consecutive month of declining sales, data released by the Commerce Department showed. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose around 0.3 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.2 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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