European shares are set for a mixed start on Thursday, in which British stocks are expected to open largely unchanged as heavyweight commodity stocks get a lift from raw material prices, while French and German stocks are in for a modest decline.
Financial spreadbetters expect Britain's FTSE 100 to open flat to down 3 points; Germany's DAX to open down 14 to 20 points and France's CAC-40 to open flat to down 9 points.
Persistent worry about the outlook for the U.S. economy hit the dollar, U.S. and Asian stocks overnight.
Crude oil futures above $135 a barrel and gold and copper rallying will likely give a boost to mining and energy stocks, helping the FTSE outperform the broader European market, which has been dogged by investor concern over the spread of inflation and ongoing worries about the outlook for financials as the credit crunch continues to unfold.
"Higher crude and metals prices should stand to push commodity stocks higher in the early part of the session, giving London something of an edge over its other European peers," wrote CMC Markets trader Matt Buckland in a note.
Also in Britain, Centrica and Cadbury deliver trading updates, while the rate outlook will be in focus after Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said in a speech on Wednesday it was unclear where interest rates would have to go to get inflation back to the bank's 2 percent target but said the BoE would take whatever action was needed.