European Shares Seen Higher, US GDP Data Eyed


European shares are seen rising on Thursday, tracking gains on U.S. and Asian stock markets, mainly on the back of a monthly gauge of U.S. business spending that was the highest this year.

Financial spread betters in London expect Britain's FTSE 100 to open 16 to 17 points higher, Germany's DAX to open up 24 to 25 points and France's CAC-40 to open 7 to 10 points higher.

Investors will keep a close eye on the preliminary reading of U.S. real GDP figures for the first quarter, due at 1230 GMT. At 1830 GMT, after European markets close, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to make a keynote speech via videoconference at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel.

Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said late on Wednesday that the U.S. central bank would likely increase interest rates "sooner rather than later" if inflation worsens, even if the economy remains weak.

Technology stocks may be in focus again after companies such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard rose overnight on Wall Street following a U.S. government report on orders for durable goods -- long-lasting manufactured items -- which showed a surprise jump in business investment last month.

On Wednesday, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 0.9 percent higher at 1,326.69 points, lifted by buoyant tech and chemical stocks as the oil price stayed below $130 a barrel during European trading hours, soothing investors' concerns about the economic outlook.