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European Stocks May Edge Higher On Fed Stimulus Hopes

European stocks are set to open higher on Monday, as weaker- than- expected US GDP figures spurred speculation that the Federal Reserve will loosen monetary policy further to boost growth.

Crude futures are slightly lower on demand worries, while copper is rising half a percent in holiday-thinned trading. The euro rose to a three-week high against the dollar as a successful Italian bond auction eased worries over Europe's debt crisis.

Asian shares are trading mostly higher after data showed South Korean manufacturers' confidence rose to the highest level in nine months in May. All eyes are on the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate decision tomorrow, as the central bank prepares to deliver at least 25-basis point cut in official interest rates. The markets in China and Japan are closed for public holidays.

Closer home, house prices in the U.K. rose for a second consecutive month in April led by London, but price rises may flatten out going into the summer, a survey by Hometrack revealed. Home prices at national level rose 0.1 percent month-over-month in April after gaining 0.2 percent in March, the survey report said. The strongest price gain was reported in London, with a 0.3 percent increase.

In corporate news, London-based private equity firm 3i Group Plc is mulling selling women's fashion retailer Hobbs for as much as 250 million pounds, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without citing sources.

Daimler is considering complaining about new rules on reporting of financial options to Germany's financial regulator as the new disclosure requirements brought confusion among investors, the Financial Times Times reported, quoting Bodo Uebber, Daimler's chief financial officer.

European shares rose on Friday as upbeat corporate earnings helped offset disappointing U.S. GDP data and a downgrade of Spain's credit rating. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks gained 0.9 percent and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, edged up 0.6 percent. Around Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 1.1 percent, the German DAX gained 0.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 moved up half a percent, but Switzerland's SMI eased 0.1 percent.

U.S. stocks edged higher on Friday, although buying interest was relatively subdued. Investors cheered upbeat earnings news from companies like Amazon.com as well as a better-than- expected reading on consumer sentiment in April, while a separate report from the Commerce Department showed somewhat weaker than expected economic growth in the first quarter.

The Dow and the S&P 500 edged up 0.2 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.6 percent to post its best weekly gain in almost three months.

by RTT Staff Writer

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