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European stocks higher with eyes on Dutch vote, Fed; DAX up 0.28% - - European stocks edged higher on Wednesday, as investors were awaiting the results of the Dutch election, as well as the Federal Reserve's policy decision due later in the day.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.30%, France's CAC 40 edged up 0.14%, while Germany's DAX 30 rose 0.28%.

Market participants were focusing on Wednesday's Dutch election, which is considered as a bellwether for the spread of populism in Europe.

Opinion polls have suggested that Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders' right-wing Freedom Party, which wants to take the Netherlands out of the European Union and stop Muslim immigration, has lost its lead to more mainstream opponents.

Separately, the Fed was widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point at the conclusion of its policy meeting later Wednesday, which would put them in a range between 0.75%-1%.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lender Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) rose 0.20%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) and Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) rallied 0.99% and 2.07%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (MI:ISP) and Unicredit (MI:CRDI) added 0.17% and 0.43% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MC:SAN) and BBVA (MC:BBVA) edged up 0.13% and 0.19%.

Adidas AG (DE:ADSGN) added to gains, with shares advancing 0.97% after the sportswear giant set a target on Tuesday for sales in North America to rise by almost half by 2020, predicting strong demand will continue for fashion sneakers.

On the downside, Volkswagen (DE:VOWG_p) declined 0.64% as the German carmaker left the door open to a potential merger with Fiat Chrysler or another rival on Tuesday, after a reporting a drop in operating profit at its biggest car brand.

In London, FTSE 100 gained 0.31%, led by Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HIK), whose shares soared 6.77% after the company reported an increase in 2016 revenue to $1.95 billion from $1.44 billion, thanks to strong growth in the injectables and branded businesses. However, the drugmaker also reported a 39% drop in net profit.

Mining stocks added to gains on the commodity-heavy index. Shares in BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) jumped 1.84% and Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) rallied 2.37%, while rivals Glencore (LON:GLEN) and Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) surged 2.29% and 2.73% respectively.

Financial stocks were also mostly higher, as the Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS) edged up 0.13% and Barclays (LON:BARC) rose 0.27%, while Lloyds Banking (LON:LLOY) gained 0.37%. HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA) underperformed however, with shares slipping 0.19%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.18% rise, S&P 500 futures showed a 0.23% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.21% increase. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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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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