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European Shares to Open Higher; BP Resumes Dividends

Financial bookmakers predicted gains for the leading European benchmark indexes on Tuesday, with the focus seen shifting back to the economic outlook and company earnings from the political unrest in Egypt.

BP said it would resume paying quarterly dividends and that it will pay a dividend on March 28.

Sharon Lorimer

European shares edged up from three-week lows on Monday, with energy and mining firms advancing as confidence over the outlook for corporate profits overshadowed worries about political unrest in Egypt.

Egypt will continue to unsettle financial markets on Tuesday, with a one-million strong protest march planned in Cairo to demand an end to the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

The unrest in Egypt has replaced the euro zone sovereign debt crisis as investors' primary concern.

But in Ireland, the fallout of the debt crisis will take center stage on Tuesday when Prime Minister Brian Cowen moves to dissolve parliament and announce the date of a general election.

The finance bill, underpinning Ireland's 2011 budget, was cleared through parliament on Thursday. It has now moved to the Senate, or upper house, for approval.

On Monday, the Irish central bank cut its growth forecast for 2011 for the country, saying it will grow just 1 percent this year, well shy of the government's 1.7 percent growth target.

The euro zone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for January, a gauge of the overall performance of the European manufacturing sector, is among macroeconomic data due out on Tuesday.

Investors will also look out for data on euro zone unemployment figures for December and Spanish, French and German manufacturing data.

The Bank of England is due to release statistics on lending to individuals and M4 money supply data, both due at 9.30 a.m. GMT.