(Alliance News) - On Friday, European stock markets are positioned for a bearish open, while on a broader backdrop, stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data raise fears that the Federal Reserve may further postpone interest rate cuts.

Stronger-than-expected British inflation data also clouded the Bank of England's monetary policy outlook while the European Central Bank still seems on track to start cutting rates in June.

Thus, the FTSE Mib is giving up 262.50 points after closing last night on the parity threshold at 34,467.67 points.

Last night, the Mid-Cap gave up 0.1 percent to 47,669.54, the Small-Cap left 0.3 percent at 29,008.12, and Italy Growth closed up 0.3 percent to 8,237.72.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 is giving up 78.00 points, Frankfurt's DAX 40 has given up 127.00, and Paris' CAC 40 is giving up 47.00 points.

On the Mib last night, Prysmian closed at the top, up 3.3 percent. FinecoBank, up 1.7 percent, and Moncler, up 0.9 percent, also did well.

Eni rose 0.3% after announcing Thursday that the first tranche of a new share buyback program will be launched within days.

In detail, the first tranche will cover a maximum of 6.4 million shares and for a maximum outlay of EUR150 million.

The plan had been announced along with the quarterly report and will total EUR1.6 billion and can be increased, based on possible upside, up to EUR3.5 billion.

Saipem - in the red by 0.8 percent - on Wednesday evening reported that its subsidiary Saipem Finance International had successfully completed the placement of a new fixed-rate non-convertible and unsubordinated bond for a total amount of EUR500 million maturing in May 2030.

The bonds pay an annual coupon of 4.875 percent and have a 100 percent re-offer price. The issue date is scheduled for May 30, 2024.

Among the bearish performers is the energy segment, with Snam doing worst of all and giving up 2.8 percent, preceded by Italgas, Terna, Hera, and A2A, all down between 2.2 percent and 1.3 percent.

On the cadet segment, Maire Tecnimont rose 2.8 percent after it announced Thursday that a consortium comprising subsidiary Tecnimont - Integrated E&C Solutions and Baker Hughes has been awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract by Sonatrach for the construction of three compressor stations, as well as the upgrading of the gas gathering system, in the Hassi R'mel gas field, 550 kilometers south of Algiers.

The total value of the contract is approximately USD2.3 billion, of which Tecnimont is responsible for USD1.7 billion.

Webuild -- in the red by 9.9 percent -- announced Thursday that its subsidiary CSC Costruzioni has been awarded a contract worth a total of more than EUR302 million for the new industrial railway plant in Ticino, with a 67 percent share of about EUR202 million.

The work, commissioned by Swiss Federal Railways to the Ticino OFT Workshops Consortium led by CSC Costruzioni, will carry out preparatory work, such as site installation and excavation, and later the construction of the main building, adjoining technical buildings and work on the exterior spaces.

The work, scheduled to begin in early July 2024, will be completed at the end of 2027, when the new Railway Industrial Plant will go into operation.

The board of directors of MFE-MediaForEurope -- A shares in the red by 0.1 percent and B shares in the green by 0.2 percent -- on Thursday said it had approved periodic financial information for the first quarter of 2024. Consolidated net income is positive EUR16.8 million compared to EUR10.1 million in the same period last year.

Consolidated net revenues are EUR699.8 million compared to EUR646.6 million in the first quarter of 2023, a growth of 8.2 percent.

"Following the positive results in the first months of the year, MFE confirms all the 'guidance' on the year-end targets previously given," the company note reads.

Sesa - in the green by 1.3 percent - announced Wednesday that it has signed through its subsidiary Base Digitale Group, active in the business services sector, a binding agreement to acquire 75 percent of the capital of ATS Advanced Technology Solutions Spa, "thus strengthening its expertise in the development of digital platforms and IT consulting for the financial services segment," the company's statement said.

Among smallcaps, KME Group gave up 0.1 percent after it announced Wednesday that its board of directors had appointed Diva Moriani as chairman of the board and Vincenzo Manes as vice chairman.

Banca Sistema - in the red by 0.8 percent - announced Monday that it had approved its three-year strategic plan through 2026. Targets include a CAGR 23-26 net interest and other banking income up 12.9 percent. As for cost/income ratios, the estimate is for 61 percent in 2023 to rise to 57 percent in 2026. Net income CAGR 23-26 is estimated to rise 27%, with Rote at 15% in 2026 and cumulative dividends 2024-2026 of EUR18 million. On capital buffers, a CET1 ratio and total capital ratio range between 14.8% and 15.8% and between 18.0% and 19.0% respectively is forecast.

Among SMEs, Equita SIM announced Thursday that it had finalized the acquisition of the minority stake in Equita K Finance and changed its name to Equita Mid Cap Advisory.

The SIM has thus risen to 100 percent of Equita Mid Cap Advisory and will exercise its proxy to increase the latter's capital, reserving all 991,734 Equita Group shares, down 0.8 percent, to the sellers of the remaining 30 percent stake in Equita Mid Cap Advisory.

This brings Equita Group's capital to EUR11.9 million, divided into 52.4 million shares, including 2.7 million treasury shares.

Bertolotti -- not affected by trading -- reported that it ended 2023 with a 37 percent year-on-year increase in value of production, to EUR38.3 million from EUR27.9 million in the previous year.

Of the value of production, 72 percent was attributable to the Industries business line; 27 percent to the Railway business line; and the remaining 1 percent to Automation and Robotics, which is newly established and from which the company expects a significant prospective contribution both in terms of technological innovation and as a market development for horizontal lines.

Revenues rose to EUR29.5 million from EUR27.1 million, registering annual growth of 9 percent. The backlog as of December 31, 2023 stood at EUR67.3 million and up sharply from the December 31, 2022 figure.

Talea Group rose 7.4 percent after reporting Thursday that its commercial brand Farmaè ranked fourth among generalist e-commerce in Italy, after giants such as Esselunga, Unieuro and La Feltrinelli, and first in the Health and Wellness sector, as well as 13th among the leading e-commerce sites worldwide.

In New York last night, the Dow gave up 1.5 percent, the Nasdaq closed down 0.4 percent, and the S&P 500 left 0.7 on the parterre.

Among Asian exchanges, the Nikkei gave up 1.3 percent, the Shanghai Composite is marking a red 0.4 percent, menter the Hang Seng marks minus 1.4 percent.

Among currencies, the euro changed hands at USD1.0811 from USD1.0826 on Thursday in closing European equities while the pound is worth USD1.2693 from USD1.2713 last night.

Among commodities, Brent crude trades at USD81.44 per barrel from USD81.78 per barrel on Thursday. Gold, on the other hand, trades at USD2,337.80 an ounce from USD2,344.25 an ounce on Thursday evening.

Friday's macroeconomic calendar includes the start of the Eurogroup meeting at 1200 CEST.

In the afternoon, overseas from the U.S. will come data on durable goods.

Among the companies listed in Piazza Affari, the results of IIG, Landi Renzo and Mevim are expected.

By Maurizio Carta, Alliance News reporter

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