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European stocks hold gains, eyes on ECB; Dax up 0.18%

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Investing.com - European stocks held gains on Thursday, despite disappointing German data as markets awaited the European Central Bank and the Bank of England's policy statements later in the day.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 climbed 0.43%, France's CAC 40 gained 0.40%, while Germany's DAX 30 added 0.18%.

Official data showed that German factory orders fell 2.3% in April, more than the expected 1% decline, after a 2.3% increase the previous month.

The ECB was not widely expected to make any changes to monetary policy at its monthly meeting later Thursday but the bank's post-policy meeting press conference with President Mario Draghi would be closely watched.

Stocks also found support after data on Wednesday showing that the U.S. private sector added far fewer-than-expected jobs in May dampened expectations that the Federal Reserve would start to unwind its asset purchase program this year.

Financial stocks remained mixed. In France, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale declined 0.20% and 0.53%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank edged up 0.06%.

Among peripheral lenders, Spanish banks BBVA and Banco Santander rose 0.28% and 0.54% respectively, while Italy's Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo tumbled 0.93% and 1.05%.

In London, FTSE 100 eased up 0.05% he Bank of England kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged for the 51st consecutive month in June and announced no change to its asset purchase facility program.

Johnson Matthey continued to lead gains, surging 6.77%, as the U.K. platinum refiner and producer of auto-catalysts posted underlying pretax profit that slipped to GBP389.2 million in the full-year ending in March, still beating the GBP379.1 million estimate .

Meanwhile, mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were on the downside, retreating 0.19% and 0.84% respectively.

Financial stocks were also broadly lower, as shares in HSBC Holdings dropped 0.50% and Lloyds Banking tumbled 1%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays plunged 2.10% and 2.38%.

Bloomberg reported earlier that Nomura Holdings is selling 84.5 million shares in Barclays on behalf of an investor at 308.5 pence a share to market price.

Elsewhere, RSA, which insures cars, homes and ships in the U.K., Scandinavia and emerging markets, rallied 2.56% after Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the stock to "overweight" from "underweight".

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.25% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.34% increase, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.22% gain.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the weekly 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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