Forexpros - European stock markets were broadly higher on Monday, as shares in the financial sector led gains after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke boosted appetite for riskier assets.
During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 climbed 1.5% France's CAC 40 rose 1.65%, Germany's DAX 30 rallied 1.6%, while London's FTSE 100 remained closed for a holiday.
Speaking at the Fed's annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday, Bernanke said the central bank "has a range of tools that could be used to provide additional monetary stimulus" to bolster economic growth.
The comments boosted shares in the financial sector, with French lenders Societe Generale and BNP Paribas climbing 2.1% and 1.65% respectively, while Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank advanced 1.4% and 2.2%.
Italian lenders were also higher after the country's third largest bank Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena reported second quarter net income rose to EUR121.1 million, beating expectations for income of EUR108.8 million.
Banca Monte dei Paschi saw shares gain 1.5%, while rivals Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit jumped 2.4% and 1.3% respectively.
Meanwhile, shares in Greek lenders soared on news of a pending merger between the country's second and third largest banks, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and Alpha Bank. The merger would create the biggest financial company in Greece.
Trading in the two stocks was suspended on the Athens Stock Exchange, while National Bank of Greece shares rallied 24% and shares in Piraeus Bank surged 29%.
Markets were also awaiting testimony from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet on the region's debt crisis before the European Parliament's Economic Committee later in the day.
Elsewhere, the outlook for U.S. equity markets was upbeat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a gain of 0.9%, the S&P 500 futures indicated a rise of 1.1%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures showed a 1.1% gain.
NYSE Euronext, operator of the New York Stock Exchange said U.S. markets will open as scheduled after New York City escaped major damage from Hurricane Irene over the weekend.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release industry data on pending home sales.
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