European stocks are seen opening higher on Friday, with sentiment supported by a strong report on U.S. building permits and lingering hopes for ECB policy action. Expectations remain high for strong European Central Bank action to stem the continent's debt crisis after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Thursday that Germany is committed to do everything they can to preserve the euro and assist indebted countries.
Merkel supported ECB President Mario Draghi's announcements in the last ECB meet, saying the move to save the euro and the prospects of ECB buying Spanish and Italian debt are "completely in line" with the approach taken by European leaders. She also called for swifter integration of fiscal policies among block members, adding time was running short to resolve the crisis.
Asian markets are trading mostly higher, in line with gains in the U.S. and Europe overnight, while commodities are subdued as the euro traded mixed against major currencies.
On the macroeconomic front, foreign trade data from eurozone and producer prices from Germany are among the important statistical reports due in the European session. Across the Atlantic, the University of Michigan will announce the results of its preliminary consumer sentiment survey for August later in the global day.
In domestic corporate news, PetroSA and Cairn India, a subsidiary of London-listed Vedanta Resources, announced that they have signed a farm-in agreement for exploring crude oil and natural gas in the offshore Block 1 in the Orange Basin on the west coast of South Africa.
Rio Tinto Plc announced that it has priced $3.0 billion of fixed rate bonds with a weighted average coupon of 2.67 percent and a weighted average maturity of 12.9 years.
Swiss Life Holding AG reported a fall in its 2012 first-half net profit to 361 million Swiss francs from 403 million Swiss francs in the same period last year.
European stocks closed higher on Thursday amid speculation Spain is moving closer to receiving aid from the European Central Bank. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks added a percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, edged up 0.1 percent. Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100, the German DAX and France's CAC 40 rose between 0.1 percent and 0.9 percent.
U.S. stocks broke sideways movement to end mostly higher overnight, as investors cheered Cisco's better than expected quarterly results and remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany was committed to do what it could do to maintain the euro.
Traders also digested another mixed batch of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing a drop in housing starts but a substantial increase in building permits. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose about 0.7 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained a percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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