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European stocks higher on central bank easing speculation; Dax up 0.47%

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Shutterstock photo - European stocks were higher on Wednesday, as expectations for additional easing measures by world central banks boosted market sentiment, although investors remained cautious ahead of this week's European Central Bank policy meeting.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 added 0.19%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.35%, while Germany's DAX 30 climbed 0.47%.

Market sentiment remained supported by prospects for ongoing monetary easing by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, as well as signs that the economic recovery in the U.S. is gaining momentum.

But investors remained cautious ahead of meetings by the ECB and the Bank of England on Thursday and U.S. data on nonfarm payrolls on Friday.

Concerns over political uncertainty in Italy also continued to linger, amid reports that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is considering appointing a technocratic government after elections last month ended in a stalemate.

Financial stocks were mostly lower, as shares in French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale retreated 0.25% and 0.90%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank dropped 0.79%. Commerzbank overperformed on the other hand, adding 0.35%.

Peripheral lenders added to losses, with Italian banks Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo slipping 0.01% and 0.40%, while Spain's Banco Santander inched down 0.01%.

On the upside, Henkel jumped 1.53% after the German company reported a 4% increase in like-for-like revenue for the fourth-quarter, topping analysts' estimates.

In London, FTSE 100 rose 0.24%, after data showed that house prices in the U.K. rose more-than-expected in February.

Car insurance company Admiral Group led gains, with shares soaring 5.72%, after reporting a profit before tax of GBP345 million for 2012, up 15% from 2011.

Vodafone also posted sharp gains, rallying 5.59%, after Bloomberg reported that the U.K. mobile phone operator and U.S. rival Verizon discussed as recently as December a full combination of options involving their relationship.

Elsewhere, financial stocks were mixed. Lloyds Banking edged up 0.19% and HSBC Holdings added 0.20%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays declined 0.34% and 0.87% respectively.

Mining stocks were on the downside, with shares in BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto tumbling 0.89% and 1.53%, while copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys slid 0.53% and 0.29%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.22% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.24% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.17% gain.

Later in the day, the euro zone was to release revised data on fourth quarter growth, while the U.S. was to publish a report on ADP nonfarm payrolls and official data on factory orders. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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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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