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European stocks open higher ahead of EU summit; DAX up 0.8%

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Shutterstock photo - European stock markets were higher after the open on Thursday, as European Union leaders were set to begin a two-day economic summit in Brussels later in the day.

Indications that the U.S. economic recovery was gaining momentum continued to underpin sentiment.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.8%, France's CAC 40 advanced 0.65%, while Germany's DAX 30 climbed 0.8%.

EU leaders gather in Brussels today for a two-day summit to endorse plans for "structural" assessments of national budgets and discuss a bailout for Cyprus.

Market players were also awaiting the outcome of an auction of long-dated Spanish government bonds later Thursday, after Madrid saw borrowing costs fall to their lowest level since April 2010 following an auction of six-and 12-month bonds on Tuesday.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale jumped 2.3% and 1.6% respectively, while Germany's Deutsche Bank added 1.1%.

Peripheral lenders also contributed to gains, with Spanish banks BBVA and Banco Santander rising 1.5% and 1.9%, while Italy's Unicredit tacked on 1.4%.

Shares in Frankfurt were further boosted by a 3% gain in cement maker HeidelbergCement after the company said debt declined more-than-expected last year due to improved earnings.

Elsewhere, in London, FTSE 100 was up 0.4%, as gains were limited by losses in raw material producers.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slumped 0.8% and 1.2% respectively, while Antofagasta declined 0.6%.

In earnings news, Home Retail Group saw shares rally 14.5% after the retailer raised its full-year profit outlook.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a moderately higher open after Wednesday's stronger-than-expected retail sales data fuelled optimism that the economic recovery in the U.S. is gaining traction.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.25% gain, the S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.2% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.25% increase.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release government data on producer price inflation and the weekly government report on initial jobless claims. - 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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