LONDON (TheDeal) -- Eurozone stock indices rallied on Thursday as central bank policy makers met to set rates.

The European Central Bank will announce its policy decision at 1.45 p.m. Frankfurt time, and hold a press conference three quarters of an hour later. Although few observers expect a rate cut beyond the current 0.05%, other stimuli are widely anticipated.

In the meantime, Markit Economics Ltd.'s purchasing managers' indices for the eurozone set a positive tone, although French indicators disappointed.

In Frankfurt, the DAX jumped 0.97% to 11,298.62 and in Paris the CAC 40 clambered up 1.16% to 4,962.68. In London, the FTSE 100 moved 0.27% higher to 6,438.07.

Packaging maker DS Smith was down about 3% in London after posting first-half results that included a 5% decline in U.K. revenue.

Oil field services company John Wood Group  (WDGJF)  gained 1.6% after it announced the purchase of Texan construction and maintenance contractor Infinity Group for an initial $150 million in a diversification gambit. 

Advertising giant Publicis edged higher in Paris after announcing a transformation plan and succession planning that paves the way for the expected retirement of CEO Maurice Lévy in May 2017. 

In Frankfurt, leading utilities RWE  (RWEOY) and E.ON  (EONGY) were among the biggest DAX gainers, with RWE up about 3% and E.ON up around 4.6% by late morning. Jefferies International initiated coverage of E.ON with a buy recommendation, noting that "pessimism has gone too far."

The analysts also said RWE's plan to hold an IPO for part of its renewables energy business late next year would help it maintain its investment grade credit rating. However, it initiated coverage of the stock with a hold recommendation, saying much of the valuation uplift ascribed to the spinoff had already been priced in.

Drinks maker Refresco Gerber was down 1.3% in the Netherlands after its three largest shareholders, including 3i Group , sold a 9.9% stake. That puts 59% of the company into free float.

Asian indices were mixed after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in a speech in Wednesday fueled consensus expectations that U.S. rates will rise in two weeks' time.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.58% at 5,227.72.

Energy producer Santos  (SSLTY) closed up 1.7% in Sydney at A$4.73 after it completed a A$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) share sale. Institutional investors stepped in to take A$585 million earmarked for - but left on the shelf by - retail investors.

The Nikkei 225 was virtually unmoved, closing up 0.01% at 19,939.90. The Topix gained 0.04% to close at 1,602.94.

In China, the Shanghai Composite rose 1.35% to 3,584.82. The Shenzhen Component climbed 2.14% to 12,447.38. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.28% at 22,417.01.