Investing.com - European stocks were higher on Friday, still supported by speculation the European Central Bank could annouce additional stimulus measures to boost growth, although ongoing tensions between the West and Russia were expected to limit gains.
During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.61%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.43%, while Germany’s DAX advanced 0.75%.
European equities remained supported after ECB governing council member and Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann said Tuesday that a negative deposit rate could be an appropriate way to address the impact of strong gains in the euro.
He also said it was not out of the question for the ECB to buy loans or other assets from banks to fight deflation, indicating a softening of the Bundesbank’s stance on quantitative easing.
But investors remained cautious as Russian troops have continued to amass near the Ukraine borders, according to several news reports, leading to concerns that the Russia is looking at another incursion into the eastern European nation.
On Wednesday, the U.S. and the European Union agreed to work together to prepare tougher sanctions against Russia and to make Europe less dependent on Russian gas.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas (BNPP.PAR) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) rose 0.36% and 0.77%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) gained 0.66%.
Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) were up 0.04% and 2.89% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) and BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) added 0.21% and 0.51%.
Earlier in the day, Intesa Sanpaolo forecast dividend payouts of about €10 billion in total for the period 2014 through 2017.
Elsewhere, Deutsche Wohnen (DWNG.DE) surged 2.08% after the residential property developer posted a 68% increase in annual profit.
In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 gained 0.55%, supported by sharp gains in the mining sector.
Fresnillo (FRES.LSE) led gains, with shares rallying 2.75%, closely followed by Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LSE), up 2.48%, while rivals Rio Tinto (RIO.LSE) and Bhp Billiton (BLT.LSE) jumped 1.97% and 1.66% respectively.
Financial stocks were also on the upside, as HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) rose 0.32% and Barclays (BARC.LSE) advanced 0.42%, while Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) climbed 0.63% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) surged 1.92%.
On the downside, Resolution (RSL.LSE) shares dove 8.20% after Deutsche Bank maintained the stock''s "hold" rating.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.26% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.36% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.44% increase.
Also Friday, official data showed that French consumer spending rose 0.1% in February, less than the expected 0.8% increase, after a 2.1% decline the previous month.
Later in the day, Germany was to produce preliminary data on consumer inflation. The U.S. was to release a report on personal spending and revised data on consumer sentiment.
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