- European stocks edged higher on Thursday, as investors were awaiting the European Central Bank''s monthly policy statement, due later in the trading session.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 added 0.13%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.27%, while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.15%.

European equities found some support amid speculation that the ECB could voice concerns over the euro''s recent strength at its post-policy meeting press conference, as fears over persistently low levels of inflation in the euro zone continued.

The ECB was seen as unlikely to implement fresh monetary policy measures at its meeting after cutting rates to record lows in June.

Earlier Thursday, Markit said Spain''s services purchasing managers'' index ticked down to 54.8 last month, from a reading of 55.7 in May. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 55.8 in June.

Financial stocks were mixed, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) added 0.04% and 0.60%, while Germany''s Commerzbank (XETRA:CBKG) and Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) slid 0.15% and 0.49%.

Among peripheral lenders, Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) edged up 0.12% and Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) slipped 0.13% in Italy, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) declined 0.19% and 0.49% respectively.

Elsewhere, ING Groep (AMS:ING) gained 0.47% after raising €1.54 billion through the initial public offering of its insurance unit.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 added 0.18%, supported by gains in the mining sector.

Shares in Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) rose 0.36% and Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) gained 0.37%, while Fresnillo (LONDON:FRES) and Antofagasta (LONDON:ANTO) advanced 0.77% and 1.70% respectively.

Financial stocks were also on the upside, as the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) edged up 0.09% and HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) added 0.17%, while Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) rose 0.21% and Barclays (LONDON:BARC) climbed 0.81%.

Meanwhile, Sabmiller (LONDON:SAB) led losses on the index, dropping 0.85%, amid of ongoing speculation brewer AB Inbev (BRU:ABI) has been considering a bid for the company.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.01% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.02% dip, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.04% uptick.

Later in the day, the euro zone was to release data on retail sales.

The U.S. was to publish data on the trade balance, as well as the weekly report on initial jobless claims, government data on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate, one day ahead of schedule, before the fourth of July holiday. In addition, the Institute of Supply Management was to publish a report service sector activity.

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