European stocks may follow Asian shares higher on Tuesday after the minutes of Bank of Japan's July 11-12 meeting revealed policy members are prepared to expand monetary stimulus to boost the economy. Most analysts expect the next move to come in October when the central bank publishes its semi-annual report on economic activity and prices.
Closer home, house prices in the U.K. declined to their lowest in a year in July, while sales plunged to near four-year low, a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors revealed. The headline house price balance fell to minus 24 in July from minus 22 in June. A reading below zero implies more survey respondents saw price falls than an increase.
Separately, preliminary figures released by the statistical office Insee showed that the French economy recorded zero growth sequentially for a third consecutive quarter in the three months through June.
With recent weak data from China and Japan clouding the global economic outlook, investors eagerly await quarterly national accounts from major European economies, inflation from the U.K. and economic sentiment survey from Germany scheduled for release later today.
Across the Atlantic, July U.S. retail sales and consumer prices data due later in the global day will shed some light on the Fed's approach during the next policy-setting meeting scheduled for September 12-13.
In corporate news, Pfizer Inc. said it has agreed to acquire over-the-counter rights for heartburn drug Nexium from AstraZeneca Plc. for an upfront payment of $250 million. Pfizer will also shell out milestone and royalty payments to AstraZeneca based on product launches and sales.
German drugs and chemicals firm Merck KGaA reported a narrower second-quarter 2012 loss after tax of 60.5 million euros compared with a loss of 86.8 million euros last year.
Utility RWE AG unveiled plans to cut about 2,400 positions as part of its new program named "RWE 2015", which aims to improve earnings by 1 billion euros per year by the end of 2014.
Celesio AG said it expects to achieve adjusted EBITDA of at least 550 million euro in fiscal year 2012 which would, at the least, correspond to the level reached in financial year 2011.
Geberit AG posted a 2.6 percent increase in its first-half net income to 226.0 million Swiss francs from 220.3 million Swiss francs last year.
Construction company Hochtief AG reported profit after tax of 76.70 million euros for the second quarter, significantly higher than 12.61 million euros reported last year.
Linde Group announced that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of Lincare Holdings Inc.
Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. reported a decline in profit for the second quarter, due mainly to higher costs and expenses despite increased revenues.
Aareal Bank Group reported second-quarter net income attributable to shareholders of 29 million euros versus 26 million euros last year.
European stocks finished in the red on Monday, as weaker than expected Chinese data reported late last week and disappointing Japanese growth data added to global growth concerns. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, lost about 0.3 percent each, while around Europe, Switzerland's SMI, France's CAC 40, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and the German DAX fell between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent.
U.S. stocks turned in a lackluster performance overnight, with disappointing Japanese economic data and profit taking following recent strength contributing to the weakness. The tech-heavy Nasdaq edged up 0.1 percent, while the Dow slid 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 edged down 0.1 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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