- European stocks remained mostly higher on Monday, after the release of euro zone inflation data added to speculation the European Central Bank could announce fresh stimulus measures, while sustained expectations for a similar move in China continued to support.

During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 edged 0.11% higher, France’s CAC 40 eased 0.08%, while Germany’s DAX inched up 0.03%.

Eurostat said the annual rate of consumer inflation slowed to 0.5% this month from 0.7% in February, falling to the lowest level since November 2009 and undershooting expectations for a reading of 0.6%. The ECB targets an inflation rate of just under 2%.

The report showed that core inflation rose 0.8% in March, in line with forecasts, but down from 1.0% in February.

Global equities also remained supported after Chinese premier Li Keqiang said Friday the country has policies in place to support economic growth. The remarks eased concerns over recent signs of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lender Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) added 0.17%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) and Commerzbank (CBKG.XETRA) climbed 0.59% and 1.76%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) surged 2.07% and 2.41% respectively, while Spanish bank Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) advanced 0.67%.

Elsewhere, Novartis (NOVN.SIX) surged 2.83% after the company ended a drug trial early as the results showed patients treated with it lived longer without being hospitalized for heart failure than those who received standard treatment.

German telecommunication service provider Drillisch (DRIG.XETRA) saw shares rally 2.74% after Chief Executive Officer Paschalis Choulidis said the company may pay a special dividend or buy back shares if it doesn’t make acquisitions by 2015.

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

Shares in Bhp Billiton (BLT.LSE) climbed 0.48% and Vedanta Resources (VED.LSE) jumped 1.12%, while rival Rio Tinto (RIO.LSE) rallied 1.96%.

Financial stocks also remained mostly higher, as Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) climbed 0.50% and Barclays (BARC.LSE) gained 0.59%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) advanced 1.16%. HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) continued to underperform on the other hand, sliding 0.49%.

On the downside, biotech group Shire (SHP.LSE) tumbled 1.26% after a U.S. federal court of appeals on Friday reversed lower court finding that a competing product from Actavis (NYSE:ACT) infringed a Shire patent.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.33% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.35% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.42% climb.

Also Monday, official data showed that German retail sales rose 1.3% in February, confounding expectations for a 0.5% fall. Retail sales in January were revised down to a 1.7% rise from a previously estimated 2.5% increase.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger