European Shares Seen Tracking US, Asian Gains


European equities were seen edging higher on Friday, gaining ground for a third consecutive session as shares track a rally in U.S. and Asian stocks overnight on renewed optimism over the banking sector and after U.S. data gave signs of a resilient economy.

Financial bookmakers, or spread betters, in London expected Britain's FTSE 100 index to open between 6 and 14 points higher, the German DAX up 10 to 20 points, and the French CAC 40 up 1 to 13 points.

News that Merrill Lynch left its dividend unchanged and Credit Suisse cut its exposure to risk gave investors some hope that the financial services sector may be stabilizing after being rocked by a global credit crisis.

On the macro front, data showed on Thursday that fewer people applied for U.S. jobless benefits, while a measure of the appetite of companies to invest came in stronger than expected within the March report on U.S. durable goods orders.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares gained 0.2 percent on Thursday, at 1,315.78 points, as gains for bank Credit Suisse and drugmaker Novartis overshadowed losses for mining companies, falling on worries about slower economic growth and after recent hefty gains.