European stocks opened higher Wednesday following solid gains by major Asian markets as recent U.S. economic data beat expectations and crude oil prices stayed above the $30 mark for more than two weeks while copper prices hit a three-month high on the London Metal Exchange.

On Wednesday, Benoît Cœuré, a European Central Bank board member, reportedly dropped hints that the central bank for the 19-member bloc would ease monetary policy this month in order to stimulate economic growth and push inflation.

France led the major European bourses Wednesday with the CAC 40 up 0.18 percent while Germany's DAX was up 0.32 percent. London's FTSE 100 was down 0.31 percent while the pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.18 percent.

China’s benchmark stock index, the Shanghai Composite Index, posted its best daily gain since November, even as rating agency Moody’s Investors Service downgraded China’s credit outlook from stable to negative Wednesday, citing “ongoing and prospective weakening of fiscal metrics.”

The Shanghai stock index closed 4.26 percent up while the Schenzhen stock exchange rose 4.7 percent. China’s Nasdaq-style ChiNext index rose 4.27 percent.

The rally spread across Asia with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 4.11 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index up 3.07 percent and India’s S&P BSE Sensex up 1.95 percent Wednesday. South Korea’s Kospi index also closed 1.6 percent up for the day.

In the U.S. stock markets, following big-percentage gains on Tuesday, stock market futures opened in the red Wednesday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones stock futures down 0.25 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 0.16 percent.