- European stocks turned moderately higher on Wednesday, as comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Tuesday continued to fuel expectations for further easing measures by the central bank.

During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 inched 0.05% higher, France’s CAC 40 edged up 0.13%, while Germany’s DAX added 0.10%.

On Tuesday, ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank was aware of the risks of persistently low inflation and was prepared to take steps to get euro zone inflation back to its target, the latest indication that the bank could ease monetary policy at its upcoming meeting next week.

The comments came a day after Draghi said the ECB is weighing a wide range of policy options, including interest rate cuts, and liquidity injections or broad-based asset purchases to help shore up the fragile recovery in the euro area.

Financial stocks turned broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) gained 0.46% and 0.85%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) edged up 0.18%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy''s Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) and Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) jumped 1.23% and 1.84% respectively, while Spain''s Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) rose 0.03% and 0.54%.

Elsewhere, Nestle (SIX:NESN) saw shares edge up 0.14% after the food company said it will expand its skincare unit in North America by paying $1.4 billion in cash for commercial rights to sell Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TO:VRX) products.

Hugo Boss (XETRA:BOSSn) rallied 1.01%, erasing earlier losses, after its majority shareholder Permira Advisers LLP said it is selling 3.95 million shares in the German company at €101.25.

In London, FTSE 100 edged up 0.08%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts higher.

Shares in Barclays (LONDON:BARC) added 0.09% and Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) climbed 0.45%, while HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) jumped 1.10% and 1.42% respectively.

Meanwhile, Glaxosmithkline (LONDON:GSK) remained sharply lower, down 1.44%, amid reports the drugmaker''s "commercial practice" is under investigation by the U.K. Serious Fraud Office. The company has been accused in a number of countries of bribing government and hospital officials.

Mining stocks still added to losses, as Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) slipped 0.13% and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) tumbled 0.98%, while rival company Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) declined 0.76%.

Weir Group (LONDON:WEIR) also remained on the downside, dropping 0.94%, after it abandoned its pursuit of Metso Oyj (HEL:MEO1V). The Finnish company''s management turned down an all-share offer valuing the maker of mining and construction equipment at €4.6 billion euros.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.17% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.17% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.17% increase.

Also Wednesday, data showed that the number of people unemployed in Germany rose by the largest amount in five years in May. The seasonally adjusted jobless total rose by 24,000 this month to 2.905 million, compared to expectations for a fall of 15,000.

The German unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7%, well below the euro zone average of 11.8%.

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