FTSE, DAX, CAC to Open Lower; Greek Talks Continue

European stocks were called to open lower on Friday as talks continue between the Greek government and private bondholders over the losses they are willing to incur on their debt holdings.

The FTSE is called 30 to 31 points lower, the DAX in Frankfurt is expected to be down by 33 to 40 points and the CAC 40 is called lower by 19 to 20 points.

A rally prompted by the news that the Federal Reserve could keep interest rates at near zero levels came to an end on Wall Street on Thursday, while in Asia markets continued to respond positively to the Fed's statement. 

The euro reached a high of $1.3184 before easing slightly and common currency looks to be one of the strongest performing currencies this week with a gain of 1.8 percent.

Greece will remain in the spotlight on Friday when the Greek government and the Institute of International Finance acting on behalf of private bondholders continue talks in Athens.  So far there has been no agreement on the extent of losses private holders of Greek debt are prepared to incur, fuelling concerns that Greece could default by the end of March when a number of bond redemptions come due.

Discussions continued late into the night on Thursday and a Greek official told Reuters that Friday's discussions would "continue on a technical and legal level."  The IIF said progress had been made on Thursday, but gave no further details.

Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that a contribution by the European Central Bank (ECB) to Greek debt restructuring would not necessarily entail losses for the central bank due to buying Greek bonds at a massive discount.  Juncker also said the IMF had not put pressure on the ECB to take losses on its Greek bondholdings as the FT reported earlier this week.

Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported on Thursday that Juncker believes euro zone countries should consider waiving Greek debt.  In an interview, the chairman of the group of euro zone finance ministers said that when a deal is struck with private bondholders "the public sector will have to wonder if it won't provide help."

The FT reports that French bankBNP Paribas is looking to dispose of its energy loan portfolio for around $11 billion.  The newspaper cites sources familiar with the deal and claims the lender is in discussions with three potential buyers.

A US Federal judge ruled on Thursday that British oil firm BP must indemnify Transocean for some of the compensation claims arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.  However, the judge also ruled that BP need not cover punitive damages or civil penalties imposed on the Swiss drilling firm by the US government.

Italy will hold an auction of short term bonds on Friday, beginning at 10:00am UK time and the Italian cabinet is due to meet to discuss growth measures aimed at reviving Italy's struggling economy.

The German Ministry for Finance will release its monthly report for January at 8:00am London time ahead of the US announcement of fourth quarter GDP at 1:30pm UK time.

Corporate releases to watch on Friday include full year results from Spanish lenders Caixabank and Banco de Valencia.