Most of the European markets rose Thursday amid hope that the European Central Bank would announce stimulus measures later in the day to boost the faltering euro zone economy.
The French CAC 40 index rose 0.15 percent or 5.06 points to 3326.62. Shares of AXA SA advanced 0.50 percent and shares of BNP Paribas SA climbed 1.03 percent.
London's FTSE 100 index was up 0.13 percent or 7.48 points to 5720.30. Shares of Resolution Ltd rose 1.11 percent and those of Whitbread PLC were up 0.67 percent.
The German DAX 30 index was marginally down 0.08 percent or 5.54 points to 6748.92. Shares of Adidas AG fell 1.64 percent and shares of Bayer AG declined 0.14 percent.
Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.20 percent or 13.70 points to 6733.70. Shares of Bankia SA advanced 6.93 percent and those of Endesa SA rose 1 percent.
Market focus will obviously be on the European Central Bank monetary policy decision Thursday. Investors sensed the urgency for the ECB to announce monetary easing measures to strengthen the global economy. Market players felt that bold measures, including easing in the monetary policy, would give a much-needed thrust to boost liquidity in the European financial system.
Expectations have been increasing ever since ECB President Mario Draghi said last week that the central bank was ready to take steps to save the euro. "Despite President Draghi's pledge to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro, the ECB appears unlikely to follow up July's interest rate cut with further major policy announcements. While the securities markets program might be temporarily revived, Draghi is likely to resist pressure to grant the European Stability Mechanism a banking license and should continue to stress that the responsibility for addressing the fiscal crisis lies with governments, not the ECB," Ben May, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
Meanwhile, investors were disappointed by the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) statement on the monetary policy Wednesday. The debt crisis faced by the euro zone and the faltering U.S. economy were expected to push the Fed to take quantitative easing measures to regain the economic growth momentum but it declined to take any additional action at the conclusion of the FOMC meeting Wednesday.