European shares are set to open higher on Thursday even as the nuclear crisis in Japan worsened and the yen surged to a record high against the dollar.
Stocks in Asia were broadly lower, but had pared earlier losses. The major indexes on Wall Street all finishes about 2 percent lower.
According to BGC Partners, the UK's FTSE 100 index will rise 27 points to 5,625, while Germany's DAX index could gain 41 points and open at 6,554, and France's CAC index may increase 30 points to 3,726.
European shares fell for the sixth straight day on Wednesday, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares closing 1.4 percent lower at 1,069.15, its lowest close in three-and-a-half months.
Geopolitical concerns look set to dominate stock movements once again on Thursday as concerns over the effects of the earthquake in Japan linger and violence in the Middle East persists.
The Swiss National Bank meets Thursday to assess its monetary policy. In an announcement due at 8:30 GMT, The bank is expected to leave rates unchanged as risks to the global economy have increased in the wake of the disaster in Japan.
The European Central Bank, which hinted after its last meeting that an interest rate hike could come as soon as April, will assess the impact of the Japan nuclear crisis and tsunami before it considers raising rates, Governing Council member Christian Noyer told German daily Handelsblatt Wednesday.
Euro zone construction output for January and UK February automotive production numbers are also due.
Spain's treasury will aim to raise between 3.5 and 4.5 billion euros in a bond auction Thursday. The sale comes just two days after Moody's rating agency cut its rating on Portugal, and a week after it did the same for Spain.
The yield on 1 billion euros ($1.40 billion) of 12-month Portuguese treasury bills rose to 4.331 percent at an auction Wednesday, compared with 4.057 percent two weeks ago.