European Shares Seen Tracking Asian Stocks Higher

European shares looked set to open higher Thursday, tracking gains in Asia and on optimism that the situation in Ireland will be resolved.

Sharon Lorimer

The potential bailout of Irish government debt lifted stocks somewhat on Wednesday. A surge in Actelion shares on reports of bid interest from Amgen boosted pharma shares, while miners rose after supply worries pushed up metals prices.

But while news that Ireland pledged to work with the European Union and the IMF on measures to rescue its banks offered some support to stocks, the lack of details on a potential bailout plan kept gains in check.

Britain threw its weight behind Ireland, with UK Chancellor George Osborne signaling the UK could offer direct financial assistance.

Macreconomic data on the agenda in Europe on Thursday includes UK retail sales figures for October and UK mortgage lending figures, also for October.

Also in the UK, investors will keep an eye out for car production figures for October and the Confederation of British Industry is due to release its monthly industrial trends survey.

Air France/KLM will be in focus on Thursday after the group raised its targets for its 2010/2011 financial year after the market close on Wednesday.

In the US, General Motors shares are expected to start trading on Thursday after the pricing of shares in its share offering was finalized.