Investing.com - European stocks pushed higher on Thursday, as investors awaited the European Central Bank''s upcoming policy statement, due later in the trading session.
During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.84%, France’s CAC 40 rallied 1.05%, while Germany’s DAX 30 jumped 0.99%.
Market players were eyeing the ECB meeting amid speculation that the bank may tighten monetary policy in order to stave off deflation and shore up the fragile recovery in the region.
Data last week showed that the annual rate of inflation in the euro zone slowed to 0.7% in January. It was the fourth consecutive month the inflation rate came in at less than 1% and was well below the ECB’s target of 2%. The ECB unexpectedly cut rates to a record low 0.25% when inflation fell to a four-year low of 0.7% in October.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale jumped 1.27% and 0.69%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank rallied 1.35%.
Among peripheral lenders, Spanish banks Banco Santander and BBVA gained 1.32% and 1.47% respectively, while Italy''s Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo surged 1.26% and 2.26%.
On the downside, Credit Suisse tumbled 1.11% after posting fourth-quarter profit of CHF267 million, below market expectations.
Elsewhere, Volvo soared 4.96% after the world’s second-biggest truckmaker said it is widening job cuts to 4,400 positions after operating profit fell 17%.
In London, FTSE 100 climbed 0.81%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts higher, while the Bank of England kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged and announced no change to its asset purchase facility program.
Shares in HSBC Holdings rose 0.34% and the Royal Bank of Scotland advanced 0.63%, while Lloyds Banking and Barclays rallied 1.53% and 1.25%.
Adding to gains, Vodafone surged 2.76% after saying fiscal third quarter revenue dropped 3.6% to GBP10.98 billion, but topped consensus of GBP10.86 billion. The decline reflected tough business conditions in Europe, its key market.
Meanwhile, mining stocks remained mixed as Rio Tinto gained 0.31% and Glencore Xstrata jumped 1.06%, while Polymetal and Randgold Resources dropped 0.51% and 0.66% respectively.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.44% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.50% climb, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.50% increase.
Investors shrugged off data earlier showing that German factory orders declined by 0.5% in December, below expectations for a pickup of 0.4%. Factory orders rose by 2.4% in November, whose figure was revised up from a previously reported increase of 2.1%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on the trade balance, as well as the weekly report on initial jobless claims.