European stocks are likely to open firmly higher Thursday as global markets return to their winning ways following a record-setting session on Wall Street and multi-year highs overnight in Asia thanks to a dovish account of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.
Britain's FTSE 100 is set to add 1'oints at the opening bell, according to financial bookmakers IG, with a 38 point gain anticipated for the DAX performance index in Germany. France's CAC-40 is priced to rise around 15 points.
Currency markets in Europe, particularly with respect to the pound sterling, are set to be the early focus of trading Thursday ahead of the release of a second, more detailed, estimate of first quarter GDP growth in the United Kingdom.
Preliminary estimates from the Office for National Statistics showed growth slowed to 0.3% in the first three months of the year, less than half the pace of the previous quarter, amid accelerating inflation and slumping consumer spending.
The pound, which has booked solid gains against the U.S. dollar since the announcement of a snap national election by Prime Minister Theresa May on April 18, was little changed overnight even as the greenback faded in the wake of the Fed's dovish reading of the U.S. economy as was last seen trading at 1.2983.
Overnight in Asia, stocks traded at a two-year high after a dovish tone from minutes of the Fed's May meeting which showed an indication to pause rate hikes in order to confirm if the current series of economic data is indicating a slowdown.
The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, gained 0.7% by 06:30 GMT thanks in part to a record close for South Korea's KOSPI and a 17-year high close for markets in Taiwan. Japan's Nikkei 225 also gained, despite a firmer yen, and ended the session 0.36% higher at 19,813.13 points.
The U.S. dollar extended its declines in Asia trading, with the dollar index, a measure of the greenback strengths against a basket of six global currencies, falling to 96.95 while benchmark U.S. 10-year bond yields, which move in the opposite direction of prices, fell to 2.25%
Release of the Fed minutes helped push U.S. stocks to record highs, with the S&P 500 rising 5.97 points to its best-ever close of 2,404,39 points. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained around 0.36% while the Nasdaq advanced 0.4% to end the day at 6,163.02 points.