Investing.com - European stocks were higher on Thursday, ahead of the European Central Bank's monthly policy statement, while signs of progress in tackling the euro zone's debt crisis continued to support.
During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 advanced 0.59%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.49%, while Germany’s DAX 30 climbed 0.80%.
Later Thursday, the ECB was widely expected to keep rates unchanged at 0.75% later Thursday, while a post-policy meeting press conference by President Mario Draghi would be closely watched for indications on the future direction of monetary policy.
Sentiment remained supported by recent signs of progress in dealing with the debt crisis in the region, although concerns over the weak outlook for the euro zone economy persisted.
Investor confidence also strengthened after U.S. President Barack Obama said a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff of year-end tax hikes and spending cuts was possible in "about a week" if Republicans compromise on taxes.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale climbed 1.43% and 0.50%, while Germany's Commerzbank rose 0.28%.
Deutsche Bank underperformed on the other hand, with shares declining 0.69%, after the Financial Times reported that three former employees told U.S. regulators that the German lender covered up paper losses of as much as USD12 billion during the financial crisis. The bank disputed the allegation.
Elsewhere, GDF Suez dove 14.12% after the company said in a statement late Wednesday that recurring net income will be EUR3.1 billion to EUR3.5 billion euros in 2012, below expectations.
In London, FTSE 100 added 0.23%, after data showed that U.K. house prices rose far more-than-anticipated in November.
Mining company Antofogasta led gains, surging 2.04%, while copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys advanced 0.64% and 0.88% respectively.
Meanwhile, financial stocks were mostly higher, as shares in Lloyds Banking rose 0.35% and the Royal Bank of Scotland climbed 0.65%, while Barclays rallied 1.03%. HSBC Holdings dropped 0.49% on the other hand.
Hargreaves Lansdown added to losses, retreating 0.94%, after Morgan Stanley lowered its recommendation on the shares to "equalweight" from "overweight".
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.03% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.02% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.08% decline.
Later in the day, Germany was to release official data on factory orders, while the U.S. was to publish the weekly government report on initial jobless claims.