(Alliance News) - Major European indexes are expected to be just above parity on Monday, with the exception of London, which seems set for a downward opening. A cautious start to the week ahead of the European Central Bank meeting, which will announce its monetary policy decisions on Thursday. In the U.S., on the other hand, the week will be dense with employment data while Fed Chairman Powell's testimony before Congress is expected on Thursday.

Thus, according to IG futures, the FTSE Mib is expected to be just above par, or up 16.8 points, after closing Friday in the green by 1.1 percent at 32,934.29.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 is given down 0.2 percent or 15.1 points while Frankfurt's DAX 40 and Paris' CAC 40 are both expected to be just above par.

"The ECB is expected to keep benchmark rates unchanged at this week's meeting. All eyes and ears will be on any minor changes in the statement and forecast," commented Ipek Ozkardeskaya, Senior Analyst at Swissquote Bank. "While the region's poor economic outlook calls for ECB action, inflation could be a drag on any concrete hint. The ECB has only one mandate: price stability. Therefore, the ECB will not cut rates before ensuring that inflation is headed toward its 2 percent target. June seems to be the first for concrete action."

Also of note, New York Community Bancorp - a regional U.S. bank - fell more than 25 percent on Friday without jolting the market. "The bank said it has discovered 'material weaknesses' in the way it tracks risks on loans," Ozkardeskaya comments. "The Fed's ability to contain last year's mini-banking crisis, the efficiency of its liquidity tools, and the credibility it has gained are why the New York Community Bancorp's problems are viewed by investors as an isolated case, and that they will not spill over to the rest of the market."

On Friday night in Piazza Affari, among Italy's minor listings, the Mid-Cap gained 0.4 percent to 45,775.58, the Small-Cap rose 0.3 percent to 28,044.75, and Italy Growth finished down 0.4 percent to 8,193.18.

On the Mib, Saipem closed on top, up 8.4 percent. Preceded by Iveco, up 5.2 percent, and Poste Italiane, up 4.1 percent.

Poste Italiane's board of directors on Thursday released preliminary consolidated results for fiscal year 2023,which closed with a net profit of EUR1.93 billion compared to EUR1.58 billion a year earlier.

The board also proposed the distribution of a dividend of EUR0.80 per share, bringing the total amount of dividends to EUR1.00 for 2023, a growth delta of 23 percent from EUR0.65 paid a year earlier.

The company also announced that the board has appointed Giuseppe Lasco as its new chief executive officer.

Leonardo - in the green by 2.5 percent - on Thursday reported that it ended 2023 with revenues of EUR15.30 billion, up 3.9 percent from EUR14.71 billion as of December 31, 2022, and in line with guidance, according to preliminary results.

Order backlog stands at EUR39.53 billion from EUR37.51 billion as of Dec. 31, 2022.

Among the bearish performers, Mediobanca ended in the red by 0.2 percent after it announced Thursday that it had ended its share buyback program after purchasing 17 million shares, or 2 percent of its share capital, for a total value of EUR198 million.

At the bottom is A2A, down 0.6 percent, preceded by DiaSorin, down 0.5 percent, and Prysmian, in the red by 0.1 percent.

The latter reported Thursday that it ended 2023 with net income up 5.0% year-on-year to EUR529 million from EUR504 million in 2022.

Revenues fell slightly, by 1.1 percent to EUR15.35 billion from EUR16.07 billion.

On the cadet segment, MARR rose 0.2 percent after announcing Thursday that, according to data contained in its preliminary financial statements, revenues for 2023 will amount to EUR2.09 billion from EUR1.93 billion in 2022, exceeding "for the first time in its history" EUR2.00 billion.

De' Longhi - up 1.5 percent - reported that it has finalized the business combination between its subsidiary Eversys and La Marzocco International.

The deal creates a leading hub in the premium segment of the coffee sector with aggreated 2023 sales of EUR370 million and in which De' Longhi will hold 61.6 percent. De' Longhi Industrial will hold 26.5 percent and the remainder will be held by minority shareholders of La Marzocco.

Among the smallcaps, Biesse gave up 2.9 percent after announcing on Friday its estimates for consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2023. Revenues are estimated at about EUR785 million and Ebitda is expected at about EUR77 million with a 9.8 percent margin on sales.

Digital Bros -- down 0.9 percent -- announced Wednesday that subsidiary 505 Games has signed an agreement with Remedy Entertainment to sell publishing, distribution and marketing rights related to the Control saga video games.

Mondo TV gave up 1.6 percent after announcing Friday that the animated series Agent 203 will be launched on Rai Gulp on March 12, with daily programming in the evening primetime hours.

The launch on the RaiPlay platform is scheduled for an exclusive premiere on March 8.

CY4Gate lost 5.2 percent after reporting Friday that it bought back 194,740 of its own ordinary shares in February for a total consideration of EUR1.2 million.

Among SMEs, Innovatec--green by 0.2 percent--reported Friday that it had finalized the acquisition of 50.1 percent of Green LuxCo Capital.

Green LuxCo Capital is an investment holding company under Luxembourg law that holds 70 percent of the share capital of Ecosavona, a company active in the treatment, disposal and recovery of urban and special nonhazardous waste, as well as in the energy recovery of landfill biogas.

Pozzi Milano dropped 2.9% the day after it reported revenues of EUR18.2 million in 2023, down 9.0% from EUR20.0 million in 2022.

In FY2023, Pozzi Milano performed well, especially internationally, recording about 77 percent of revenues abroad, the company explained in a note.

In Asia, the Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to 40,109.23, the Hang Seng gave up 0.3 percent to 16,548.57, and the Shanghai Composite was up 0.4 percent to 3,039.31.

In New York on Friday, the Dow closed in the green 0.2 percent to 39,087.38, the Nasdaq rose 1.1 percent to 16,274.94 and the S&P 500 closed up 0.8 percent to 5,137.08.

Among currencies, the euro changed hands at USD1.0848 against USD1.0833 recorded in Friday's European stock close, while the pound was worth USD1.2664 from USD1.2651 on Friday evening.

Brent crude is worth USD83.46 per barrel versus USD83.91 per barrel at Friday's close. Gold, on the other hand, trades at USD2,084.73 an ounce from USD2,082.95 an ounce Friday night.

Monday's macroeconomic calendar calls for the French government budget at 0845 CET, while at 0900 CET is the change in the unemployment rate in Spain.

At 1000 CET the Sentix index of investor confidence is expected.

On the bond front, French BTF auctions with 3-, 6-, and 12-month maturities are expected at 1455 CET, while from overseas at 1730 CET it is the turn of the US Treasury bond auctions with 3- and 6-month maturities.

Among companies listed on the Italian Stock Exchange, the results of Health Italia and Piaggio & C. are expected.

By Chiara Bruschi, Alliance News reporter

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