(Updates futures prices, adds company news)
LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - European shares headed for a higher start on Thursday, with a further rise in crude oil prices and some encouraging company results seen supporting stocks for a second straight session.
On the earnings front, Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM beat forecasts with a return to profit last year, helped by a drop in the fuel bill and growth in passenger traffic, while AccorHotels ACCP.PA posted a 3.5 percent rise in like-for-like operating profit last year.
In Asia, stocks rose across the board as oil prices rose after Iran welcomed plans by Russia and Saudi Arabia to cap production.
European stocks rallied in the previous session, boosted by optimism over a deal to freeze oil output. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 extended earlier gains to finish up 2.7 percent after Iran voiced support for an initiative led by Russia and Saudi Arabia to freeze production in an oversupplied market.
U.S. equity indexes also rose, led by energy shares, after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's January policy meeting were released in the afternoon, showing Fed policymakers worried last month that tighter global financial conditions could hit the U.S. economy and considered changing their planned path of interest rate hikes in 2016.
Britain's largest energy utility reported a 4 percent fall in 2015 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) on Thursday and said it would cut 1,000 jobs this year as it struggles with weak energy prices.
Food group Nestle NESN.VX said it expected softer pricing and growth in line with last year in 2016 after full-year organic growth of 4.2 percent fell short of expectations, failing to show the hoped-for improvement in the fourth quarter.
AIR FRANCE-KLM AIRF.PA
Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM beat forecasts with a return to profit last year, helped by a drop in the fuel bill and growth in passenger traffic.
Europe's largest hotelier posted a 3.5 percent rise in like-for-like operating profit last year, as restructuring and robust demand in most markets offset a slowdown in France after Islamist attacks and weakness in Brazil.
Austrian oil and gas group OMV's output could stagnate at 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day until 2020 if an asset swap with Gazprom (MCX: GAZP ) for a stake in a Siberian field falls through this year, Chief Executive Rainer Seele said.
Belgium's KBC reported a fourth-quarter net profit below market expectations on Thursday as the bank and insurance group took an impairment on its operations in Bulgaria and Slovakia.
Allianz said it entered a reinsurance and consulting agreement with run-off specialist Enstar ESGR.O , involving the transfer of $1.1 billion of U.S. long-tail liabilities to Enstar via a 50 percent quota share reinsurance of selected portfolios carried by Allianz unit San Francisco Reinsurance Company.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration may have greatly underestimated the number of fetal deaths among women who became pregnant after using Bayer's Essure contraceptive device, according to a private analyst who combed through the agency's public database. BOERSE DB1Gn.DE
The group raised its dividend by more than expected, after volatile financial markets last year spurred revenue from trading at the German exchange operator. MEDICAL CARE FMEG.DE
The company settled out of court for $250 million with U.S. plaintiffs who had accused the German company of understating the side effects of a medical product, it said late on Wednesday.
British private equity firm 3i Group Plc III.L is considering an initial public offering for Basic-Fit, valuing the Dutch gym chain at 1 billion euros ($1.11 billion) including debt, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter. (http://bloom.bg/1KWFAm9)
The Brazilian government expects to reach an agreement by Friday with Samarco Mineração SA to settle a 20 billion-real ($4.9 billion) lawsuit for damages in a deadly dam disaster, Brazil's attorney general Luís Inácio Adams said on Wednesday. Brazilian iron ore miner Samarco Mineração SA is a joint venture of Vale SA VALE5.SA and BHP Billiton Plc BLT.L BHP.AX . state-led oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.SA said on Wednesday that it and its partners found more oil in the Libra prospect in a well that helps confirm the extent of the giant offshore area.
Libra is 40 percent owned by Petrobras, which is also the operator, 20 percent owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc RDSa.L , 20 percent by France's Total SA (PA: TOTF ) TOTF.SA and 10 percent each for Chinese companies CNOOC 0883.HK and China National Petroleum Corp CNPET.UL .
South32 S32.AX could be among the first to buy assets placed on the block this week by South Africa's Anglo American AAL.L , with the Australian company saying it was interested in its manganese unit. American is working with Bank of America Corp (N: BAC ) BAC.N to sell more of its non-core coal mines in Australia, Bloomberg reported citing people with knowledge of the matter.
Most managers at HSBC's HSBA.L UK retail and wealth unit will not be getting a pay rise this year, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, in what marks the bank's third change to pay policy in as many weeks. GAM.MC
Gamesa has won a contract to supply wind turbines with a combined capacity of 184 MW in India. LHN.VX
The world's biggest construction materials company said on Wednesday a South African union representing about 800 striking workers has accepted an 8 percent pay increase, raising the prospects of ending a week-long walkout.
Japanese group Hitachi 6501.T said on Wednesday it had appealed against a ruling by Italy's market watchdog forcing it to raise its offer to buy out minority shareholders in Italian train signalling group Ansaldo STS .
UBI BANCA UBI.MI
Shareholders holding a combined stake of 11.95 percent in Italy's fifth biggest lender UBI Banca, which recently dropped its cooperative status and turned into a joint-stock company, have formed a "consultation pact", they said on Wednesday.
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