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European stocks turn higher ahead of ECB decision; Dax up 0.44%

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Shutterstock photo - - European stocks turned higher on Thursday, as markets awaited of the European Central Bank's highly anticipated policy statement, expected later in the trading session.

During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.49%, France's CAC 40 advanced 0.52%, while Germany's DAX gained 0.44%.

European equities found support after data earlier in the week showed that the euro zone's consumer price inflation stands well below the European Central Bank target of near but just under 2%, adding to expectations that the central bank will take steps to tackle low consumer price growth.

Data on Thursday showed that retail sales in the euro zone rose 0.4% in April, more than the expected 0.1% uptick, after a 0.1% gain in March, whose figure was revised down from a previously estimated 0.3% increase

A separate report showed that German factory orders rose 3.1% in April, beating expectations for a 1.3% increase, after a 2.8% decline the previous month.

Financial stocks were mixed as French lenders Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) jumped 0.97% and BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) slipped 0.12%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) edged down 0.18%.

Among peripheral lenders, BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) rose 0.20% and Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) fell 0.15% in Spain, while Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) and Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) gained 0.86% and 1.12% respectively.

Volvo (ST:VOLVAs) extended earlier losses, plummeting 2.26%, after UBS recommended selling the shares.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom (XETRA:DTEGn) rallied 1.06% amid reports Sprint (NYSE:S) is nearing an agreement on the price, capital structure and termination fee of an acquisition for T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). Deutsche Telekom, which owns a 67% stake in T-Mobile, would be left with about 15% of the combined company.

In London, FTSE 100 edged up 0.06%, after the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep interest rates on hold at their current record low of 0.5%. The bank also made no change in its quantitative easing program, which remains at £375 billion.

Financial stocks remained mostly lower, as the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) dipped 0.05% and Barclays (LONDON:BARC) edged down 0.10%, while HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) shed 0.23%. Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) overperformed however, adding 0.15%.

Mining stocks were also on the downside, as Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) lost 0.18% and Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) retreated 0.41%, while Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) and Fresnillo (LONDON:FRES) dropped 0.72% and 0.89% respectively.

Meanwhile, Smith & Nephew (LONDON:SN) continued to lead gains on the index, with shares surging 5.03% following reports Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) is considering a takeover of the U.K. maker of medical devices.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow 30futures pointed to a 0.01% gain, S&P 500futures signaled a 0.03% dip, while the Nasdaq 100futures indicated a 0.07% loss.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish the weekly report on initial jobless claims. 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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