- European stock markets were higher after the open in subdued trade on Thursday, with several bourses shut for the May 1 public holiday, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

During European morning trade, London’s FTSE 100 inched up 0.3%. The U.K. Index is the only major bourse open Thursday with markets in Germany, France and some other countries closed for May Day. All national benchmarks will reopen on Friday.

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.LONDON) rallied 3.4% in London after the lender reported a 22% increase in first quarter underlying profit and announced plans to restart dividend payments.

The upbeat results boosted other shares in the sector, with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LONDON) rising 1.8% and Barclays (BARC.LONDON) gaining 1.3%.

Shares of British Sky Broadcasting (BSY.LONDON) surged 4.2% after its third quarter results showed it had added 74,000 new TV customers in the period.

In the mining sector, stocks were mixed after data released earlier showed that China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to 50.4 in April, just below an expectation of 50.5, and higher than the 50.3 reported last month.

Copper producers Anglo American (AAL.LONDON) and Kazakhmys (KAZ.LONDON) declined 1.3% and 1% respectively.

Elsewhere, U.S. equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow pointed to a rise of 0.03%, S&P 500 inched up 0.03%, while the Nasdaq 100 indicated a rise of 0.15%.

The U.S. is to publish the weekly report on initial jobless claims. At the same time, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is to speak at an event in Washington. Later Thursday, the Institute of Supply Management is to release a report on manufacturing activity.

Investors were also turning their attention to Friday’s U.S. jobs report for April, which was expected to indicate that the recovery in the labor market is continuing.

The Fed said Wednesday it would reduce its bond purchases by $10 billion to a total of $45 billion a month, in a widely expected decision. The Fed also said interest rates would remain on hold at record lows for a "considerable time" after the bond-buying program ends later this year.

The U.S. central bank acknowledged that first quarter growth was far weaker than expected, but added that momentum had started to pick up in recent weeks.

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