European stocks push higher as Cyprus, Italy dominate; Dax up 0.54%

Shutterstock photo - European stocks pushed higher on Thursday, although investors remained cautious as Cyprus banks were to reopen later in the day, while concerns over political deadlock in Italy persisted.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 advanced 0.73%, France's CAC 40 gained 0.61%, while Germany's DAX 30 climbed 0.54%.

Investors remained cautious, as banks in Cyprus re-opened for the first time in almost two weeks, with capital controls in place to prevent a run on banks.

Cypriots will not be allowed to withdraw more than 300 euros a day, cannot cash checks, and cannot take more than 3,000 euros when traveling abroad.

Meanwhile, in Italy, doubts continued over whether a stable coalition government could be formed, fuelling concerns that the country may have to go back to the polls.

Financial stocks extended gains, as shares in French lenders Societe Generale and BNP Paribas rallied 2.08% and 2.14%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank added 1.71% and 0.09%.

Among peripheral lenders, Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit surged 2.29% and 3.16% respectively, while Spain's Banco Santander and BBVA rose 0.38% and 0.74%.

Elsewhere, Dutch cable operator Ziggo saw shares soar 11.25%, following reports Liberty Global bought a 12.65% stake in the company.

In London, FTSE 100 advanced 0.80%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts higher, while data showed that U.K. service output rose 0.3% in January, the biggest rise since August, easing concerns over the threat of a triple-dip recession.

Shares in Lloyds Banking climbed 0.68% and HSBC Holdings jumped 1.43%, while Barlays rallied 2.03%. The Royal Bank of Scotland underperformed on the other hand, slipping 0.23%.

Meanwhile, mining stocks also remained on the upside, as Rio Tinto rose 0.34% and rival Evraz surged 1.82%, while copper producer Xstrata gained 0.49%.

On the downside, ICAP plummeted 2.53%%, after the world's largest broker of transactions between banks said profit will slip this year.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a moderately higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.15% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.08% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.20% increase.

Also Thursday, official data showed that the number of unemployed people in Germany rose by 13,000 in February, disappointing expectations for a decline of 4,000, after a 3,000 fall the previous month.

A separate report showed that German retail sales rose unexpectedly in February, ticking up 0.4% after a 3% rise the previous month. Analysts had expected retail sales to fall 0.1% last month.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the weekly government report on initial jobless claims as well as revised data on fourth quarter economic growth. - 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.

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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