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European stocks open higher in choppy trade; Dax up 0.21%

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Shutterstock photo - European stocks opened higher in choppy trade on Friday, as expectations for the Federal Reserve to soon begin tapering its stimulus program grew ahead of the central bank's policy meeting next week.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.27%, France's CAC 40 added 0.24%, while Germany's DAX 30 edged up 0.21%.

Equity markets weakened after mixed U.S. data on Thursday, amid growing expectations the Fed will begin to scale back its USD85 billion a month asset purchase program at next week's policy meeting.

The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 0.7% in November, above expectations for a 0.6% increase. Core retail sales rose 0.4%, above forecasts for a 0.2% increase.

Separately, the Department of Labor said the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose to a two month high of 368,000, compared to expectations for an increase to 320,000 from the previous week's revised total of 300,000.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale rose 0.36% and 0.85%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank gained 0.48%.

Among peripheral lenders, Spanish banks BBVA and Banco Santander climbed 0.58% and 0.61% respectively, while Italy's Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo rallied 1.14% and 1.18%.

Elsewhere, PSA Peugeot dove 9.38% after General Motors said it is selling its entire stake in the French carmaker.

Adding to losses, Iberdrola slipped 0.15% as Goldman Sachs recommended selling shares in Spain's biggest utility.

In London, FTSE 100 edged up 0.06%, although gains were capped by RSA Insurance, whose shares sank 16.07% after Group Chief Executive Simon Lee tendered his resignation to the company.

Meanwhile, financial stocks were mixed as HSBC Holdings inched up 0.05% and Barclays rose 0.39%, while Lloyds Banking and the Royal Bank of Scotland lost 0.26% and 0.09%.

In the mining sector, stocks were mostly higher. Shares in Glencore Xstrata and BHP Billiton advanced 0.47% and 0.66% respectively, while rival Astrazaneca led gains, up 1.89%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.28% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.36% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.38% increase.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data on producer price inflation. 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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