European stocks edge higher ahead of ECB; DAX up 0.15%

Forex Pros - European stock markets were up on Thursday, rebounding from a ten-week low ahead of a key policy setting meeting by the European Central Bank, while U.S. futures indexes pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.13%, France's CAC 40 added 0.15%, while Germany's DAX 30 edged 0.2% higher.

The ECB was not expected to increase its benchmark interest rate later in the day, but President Jean-Claude Trichet was widely expected to signal that the bank would raise its minimum bid rate in July.

Meanwhile, French utility provider Suez Environnement saw shares jump 2.2% after JP Morgan raised its rating on the stock to 'overweight' from 'neutral', citing attractive earnings growth and lower risk versus the utilities sector.

Shares in the world's second-largest maker of radiation-treatment equipment Elekta rallied 3.2% after it said fourth quarter net income rose 11.5% to USD86 million, surpassing expectations for income of USD84.3 million.

On the downside, shares in the financial sector retreated amid ongoing concerns over Greek sovereign debt. Deutsche Bank saw shares decline 1.1%, Italy's largest lender Unicredit slumped 1.3%, while shares in BNP Paribas shed 0.9%.

Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies slumped 1.9% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock, saying margins may flatten out at around 20% in the second half of 2011.

In London, the commodity-heavy FTSE 100 eased up 0.1% as raw material producers advanced after oil and metal prices gained.

Gold producer African Barrick Gold was up 1.3%, copper producer Anglo American saw shares climb 1.1%, while oil major BP saw shares advance 0.7%.

Meanwhile, shares in Home Retail Group plunged 11.3% after it reported comparable sales at its Argos unit fell 9.6% in the 13 weeks to May 28, owing to a big slowdown in consumer electronics.

The Bank of England was expected to keep rates on hold at 0.50% when it announced its rate decision later Thursday.

The outlook for U.S. equity markets was upbeat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of 0.2%, S&P 500 futures indicated an increase of 0.21%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.15%.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish official data on its trade balance as well as a weekly government report on initial jobless claims.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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