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European Markets Rise Ahead Of ECB Decision

The European markets are rising on Thursday, buoyed by some corporate news, ahead of the key rate decision from the European Central bank. Asian markets were mostly weak after economic data from the U.S. and Europe overnight dampened sentiment.

Spain raised 2.52 billion euros from medium-term debt auction, exceeding the 2.5 billion euros maximum target. However, yields increased from the prior issue.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is advancing 1.48 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is rising 0.88 percent.

The German DAX is climbing about 1.13 percent and the French CAC 40 is adding 1.19 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is gaining 0.52 percent and Switzerland's SMI is rising 0.51 percent.

In Frankfurt, BMW is leading the gainers by adding 3.3 percent after first-quarter profit rose on strong demand from Asia. Volkswagen is rising 0.9 percent and Daimler is up 0.2 percent.

Lufthansa is climbing 2.2 percent after stating that loss in the first quarter narrowed as the company backed its full year view.

Bayer, Merck, Fresenius and Allianz are notably higher.

Sports goods giant Adidas backed its forecast for the year issued last week after reporting higher profit and revenue for the first quarter. The stock is up about 1 percent.

Metro is advancing 0.3 percent after first-quarter loss widened sharply on investments in its consumer electronics chain Media-Saturn.

HeidelbergCement reported a wider loss for the first quarter. The stock is losing 4.1 percent.

Infineon Technologies is down 2.7 percent after profit dropped on lower margins.

Commerzbank is losing 1.1 percent and Deutsche Bank is falling 0.6 percent.

Fraport is losing 1.5 percent. Morgan Stanley cut the stock to "Equalweight" from "Overweight."

In Paris, Speed-train maker Alstom is climbing about 4 percent, followed by EDF, which is adding 3.1 percent.

France Telecom is advancing 2.2 percent. The company confirmed its fiscal 2012 forecast of attaining close to 8 billion euros in operating cash flow, despite the pressure on revenues and margins.

Renault is climbing 2.2 percent while Peugeot is losing moderately.

Societe Generale is adding 1.2 percent after reporting quarterly results. BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole are marginally up.

In London, Smith & Nephew is climbing 3.5 percent. The company posted a higher profit for the first quarter and confirmed its full-year forecast of achieving modest increase in trading profit margin.

Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are adding about 1 percent each.

Antofagasta is declining 4.1 percent. The company reported a 12.9 percent sequential decrease in first-quarter copper production.

Randgold is falling 1.7 percent. The gold miner posted a surge in profit for its first quarter, despite the challenges presented by a coup in Mali.

BG Group is falling 2.7 percent. The company reported higher earnings for the first quarter and announced a memorandum of understanding with Cosan S.A. Indústria e Comércio for the sale of its 60.1 percent holding in Comgás, Brazil's largest gas distribution company, for around $1.8 billion.

Legal & General is dropping 2.5 percent. Aviva is up 1 percent.

Deutsche Bank raised UBS to "Hold" from "Sell." The stock is up 0.6 percent.

Clariant is climbing 3.8 percent in Zurich. The company confirmed its outlook for 2012 even as first-quarter profit plunged.

Dutch life sciences firm Royal DSM agreed to acquire medical device maker Kensey Nash Corp. DSM is advancing 1.7 percent.

Delhaize is plunging 12.1 percent in Brussels. The food retailer slipped to a loss in its first quarter and expects lower underlying operating profit for fiscal 2012.

In economic news, Eurozone's producer prices increased less than forecast by economists in March, data from Eurostat showed.

At 7.45 am ET, the European Central Bank is slated to announce its rate decision. The central bank is set to hold fire at the policy meeting to be held in Barcelona. The Governing Council led by ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to maintain the main refi rate at a record low 1 percent.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries slipped 0.23 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 0.28 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index managed to end in positive territory by edging up 0.07 percent on hopes of government measures to stem economic slowdown. The Japanese market is closed for a public holiday.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, stocks turned mixed over the course of the trading day after traders shrugged off a disappointing private sector jobs report. While the Nasdaq rose 0.3 percent, the Dow edged down 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.3 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for June delivery is sliding $0.40 to $104.82 per barrel and June gold is falling $8.8 to $1645.2 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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