European stocks are expected to open modestly higher Friday, following a solid session Asia session and ahead of key economic data releases from Britain and the Eurozone.

The FTSE 100 is priced to rise around 4 points at the opening bell, according to financial bookmakers, although the release of retail sales data at 09:30 BST will likely impact both equity and currency markets as investors watch the affects of rising inflation and flat wage growth. Germany's b performance index is set for a 17 point gain while France's CAC-40 is priced for a modest 2 point rise. IHS Markit will release its flash estimates for activity in the manufacturing and services sector in the Eurozone starting at 08:00 BST.

Broader regional currency markets, however, are little changed at the start of European trading, with the single currency marked at 1.0711 against the U.S. dollar and the pound holding at 1.2808 in the final session ahead of the first round of presidential elections in France this weekend.

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Polls remain deadlocked among the four main candidates, although most analysts expect centrist Emmanuel and far-right Marine Le Pen to make it through to the second round runoff on May 7. Tensions remain high, however, for both an upset -- given the high percentage of undecided voters -- and for the safety of those heading to the polls after two policeman were murdered on the Champs Elysees late Thursday by a lone gunman who was later shot dead by law enforcement officials. 

Overnight in Asia, stocks rebounded firmly but are still on track to notch a five-day loss, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rising 0.66% by 06:45 while Japan's Nikkei 225 added 1.03% to 18,620.75 points as investors moved into cheap stocks after the yen weakened to 1.0923 against a firmer U.S. dollar.

Early indications from U.S. futures prices are pointing to a solid open on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average building on Thursday's gains and adding 30 points at the opening bell. The broader S&P 500, which rose 0.76% into the close yesterday, is priced to rise around 2.75 points at the start of trading.