European Factors — Shares seen up on recovery hopes

 (Amends headline)
 LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - European shares were set to open slightly
higher on Thursday, building on recent gains that have taken key indexes to
three-week highs, after U.S. labour data suggested the economic recovery is on
track, and ahead of the results of stress tests for Irish banks.
 At 0638 GMT, Euro STOXX 50 (STXEc1: Quote, Profile, Research) futures were 0.3 percent higher,
Germany's DAX futures (FDXc1: Quote, Profile, Research) were 0.2 percent higher and France's CAC-40
futures (FCEc1: Quote, Profile, Research) were 0.1 percent higher.
 On Wednesday, the FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of leading European shares
rose 0.8 percent to 1,134.63 points, its highest close in three weeks.
 Having fallen more than 10 percent between mid-February and mid-March, as a
nuclear crisis in Japan and spreading unrest in the Middle East worried
investors, the index has regained more than half the ground lost, and is set to
finish the quarter up just over 1 percent.
 The benchmark index is up more than 75 percent from its lifetime low of
March, 2009, helped by stimulus from governments and central banks worldwide.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^    For a graph of asset returns in the first quarter of 2011, click on
http://r.reuters.com/wur78r
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>    "Despite positive leads from Wall Street last night spurred on by an upbeat
outlook for Friday's non-farm payrolls, the mixed performance across the major
Asian indexes today seems likely to make it difficult for European markets to
make much real progress at the open," Chris Weston, trader at IG Markets, said
in a note.
 Shares in Bank of Ireland (BKIR.I: Quote, Profile, Research) and Allied Irish Banks (ALBK.I: Quote, Profile, Research) will be
suspended from trading on Thursday on the Irish stock exchange ahead of the
publication of crunch stress tests. The temporary suspension notice will remain
in place pending the results of the stress tests, due to be published at 1530
GMT, and any subsequent announcements by the individual banks.
 The tests are expected to signal the effective nationalisation of the entire
financial system. [ID:nLDE72T086]
 Two U.S. Federal Reserve Bank officials on Wednesday said the Fed needs to
exit its unprecedented monetary stimulus, suggesting the debate over future
policy is heating up as the U.S. central bank nears the end of its current round
of stimulus. [ID:nN30180403]
 U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday after unaltered expectations for a healthy
number on Friday's labour market data, following a reassuring figure on private
payrolls, kept sentiment up.
 Investors will also look at U.S. weekly jobless claims, due later on
Thursday.
 
 
 ----------------------MARKET SNAPSHOT AT  0623 GMT----------------------   
                                      LAST        PCT CHG        NET CHG    
 S&P 500                  (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research)  1,328.26         0.67 %           8.82    
 NIKKEI                  (.N225: Quote, Profile, Research)  9,755.10         0.48 %          46.31    
 MSCI ASIA EX-JP (.MIASJ0000PUS: Quote, Profile, Research)    572.04         0.80 %           4.55    
 EUR/USD                  (EUR=: Quote, Profile, Research)    1.4163         0.23 %         0.0033    
 USD/JPY                  (JPY=: Quote, Profile, Research)     82.63        -0.33 %        -0.2700    
 10-YR US TSY YLD    (US10YT=RR: Quote, Profile, Research)     3.441             --           0.00    
 10-YR BUND YLD      (EU10YT=RR: Quote, Profile, Research)     3.336             --           0.01    
 SPOT GOLD                (XAU=: Quote, Profile, Research) $1,426.75         0.24 %          $3.37    
 US CRUDE                 (CLc1: Quote, Profile, Research)   $104.88         0.59 %           0.61    
  -----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 * GLOBAL-Asia stocks poised for quarterly gains              [ID:nL3E7EV036]
 * Wall St rides winners as quarter winds down                [ID:nN30187251]
 * Nikkei hugs gains after rally, TEPCO jumps                 [ID:nL3E7EV0AC]
 * Treasury yields likely stable ahead of payrolls            [ID:nLDE72U01R]
 * Rates view drives yen lower as Q1 draws to close           [ID:nL3E7EV08N]
 * Gold edges up, heads for 10th quarterly rise since '08     [ID:nL3E7EV05E]
 * Copper up, but set for first quarterly loss since mid-2010 [ID:nL3E7EV08D]
 * Brent heads for biggest qtrly gain in almost 2 years       [ID:nL3E7EV0E4]
 
 COMPANY ITEMS
 
 HENNES & MAURITZ (HMb.ST: Quote, Profile, Research)
 The budget fashion chain posted a bigger fall than expected in first-quarter
earnings and cited high costs, particularly for cotton. [ID:nSAT009167]
 
 IRISH BANKS 
 The Irish Independent newspaper reported that the Irish government would
announce a radical restructuring of the Irish banking sector after the results
of bank stress tests are announced on Thursday. Ireland plans to merge EBS
(EBSBS.UL: Quote, Profile, Research) and AIB (ALBK.I: Quote, Profile, Research), it said. [ID:nWLA6824]
 
 THE LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE (LSE.L: Quote, Profile, Research) 
 The LSE reported strong growth in listings in a trading update ahead of
annual results, while trading activity and its market share were steady.
[ID:nLDE72T26R] 
 
 ZURICH FINANCIAL (ZURN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research)
 Claims against Swiss insurer Zurich Financial from the five natural
disasters to hit the Asia-Pacific region so far in 2011 could be around $500
million, the insurer said. [ID:nLDE72U05A]
 
 TAYLOR WIMPEY (TW.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
 British housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has sold its North American business to
TMM Holdings for $955 million to cuts its debt and pension deficit, as well as
focus on its core UK housing business. [ID:nLDE72U0A8]
 
 TATE & LYLE (TATE.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
 British sweeteners and starches group Tate & Lyle sold its mothballed U.S.
ethanol plant at Fort Dodge to Cargill [CARG.UL] as it reported its financial
performance was in line with market expectations. [ID:nLDE72T20A]
 
 UBS (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research)
 Swiss bank UBS AG, the leader in equity underwriting in Asia Pacific, plans
to double its China staff in three to four years as it expands stock research
coverage to small and medium-sized companies in China, the bank's co-chief
executive for the region said. [ID:nL3E7EV0E7]
 
 PETROPAVLOVSK (POG.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
 The miner reported underlying EBITDA before exceptionals of $229 million.
[ID:nWLA6867]
 
 888 (888.L: Quote, Profile, Research)
 Online gaming firm 888 said bid talks with rival Ladbrokes (LAD.L: Quote, Profile, Research) were
ongoing as it reported a steep fall in 2010 earnings, hit by falling poker
revenues and an increased marketing spend. [ID:nLDE72U08T]
 
 FIAT (FIA.MI: Quote, Profile, Research)
 Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday he wanted to raise the Italian
carmaker's stake in Chrysler to 51 percent this year, but hinted taking the
company public may be pushed into 2012. [ID:nLDE72T0IN]
 
 VIENNA INSURANCE GROUP (VIGR.VI: Quote, Profile, Research) 
 The company reiterated its 2011 outlook, saying a huge earthquake and
tsunami in Japan would not hit its results. [ID:nWEA1881]
 
 SAVINGS BANKS
 Spanish savings bank Caja Mediterraneo (CAHM.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) said late on Wednesday it
would apply for state funds to meet capital requirements following the collapse
of a planned merger with three other banks. [ID:nLDE72T1II]
 
 (Reporting by Brian Gorman)

European Factors — Shares seen up on recovery hopes