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European stocks higher, eyes on Cyprus and Italy; Dax up 0.21%

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Shutterstock photo - European stocks edged higher on Thursday, although investors remained cautious as Cyprus banks were to reopen later in the day, while concerns over political deadlock in Italy persisted.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 added 0.19%, France's CAC 40 edged up 0.13%, while Germany's DAX 30 rose 0.21%.

Investors remained cautious as Italian centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani seemed to have only slim hope of forming a government after talks with rival party leaders ended on Wednesday with rejection from Beppe Grillo's 5-Star Movement.

Markets were also jittery as Cyprus prepared to reopen its banks for the first time in nearly two weeks, with fears of bank runs prompting the government to impose a number of controls, including limiting withdrawals and banning cheques.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in French lenders Societe Generale and BNP Paribas added 0.12% and 0.88%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank jumped 1.25%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit climbed 0.53% and 043% respectively, while Spain's BBVA and Banco Santander slipped 0.15% and 0.01%.

Elsewhere, Dutch cable operator Ziggo saw shares soar 9.05%, following reports Liberty Global bought a 12.65% stake in the company.

In London, FTSE 100 added 0.19%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts higher, while data showed that U.K. house prices were flat in March.

Shares in HSBC Holdings edged up 0.19% and the Royal Bank of Scotland climbed 0.45%, while Barclays and Lloyds Banking advanced 0.86% and 1.13% respectively.

Meanwhile, mining stocks were also on the upside, as Rio Tinto gained 0.31% and rival Evraz surged 1.98%, while copper producer Xstrata rose 0.19%.

On the downside, ICAP plummeted 1.26%%, after the world's largest broker of transactions between banks said profit will slip this year.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.04% gain, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.07% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.04% rise.

Also Thursday, official data showed that German retail sales rose unexpectedly in February, ticking up 0.4% after a 3% rise the previous month.

Analysts had expected retail sales to fall 0.1% last month.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the weekly government report on initial jobless claims as well as revised data on fourth quarter economic growth. - 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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