Europe Stocks To Follow Asia Higher

After two days of heavy selloffs instigated by the disasters in Japan, European shares look set open higher at the start of trading Wednesday.

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Asian stock markets rebounded, with the Nikkei 225 average surging after its worst two-day selloff since the 1987 crash.

Shares also received a lift from the Federal Reserve, which gave an upbeat view of the economy and stuck to its ultra-loose monetary policy.

But news of another fire at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant and fears of radiation leaks may keep investors on edge.

According to BGC Partners, the UK's FTSE 100 index will open 20 points up at 5,715, while Germany's DAX index is poised to rise 41 points to 6,688, and France's CAC index could increase 6 points to 3,786.

World stocks hit 2-1/2-month lows Tuesday after reports of rising radiation in Tokyo, with European shares falling to a 3-1/2 month closing low.

The dollar fell to a record low against the Swiss franc and the euro was also down against the franc as investors piled into perceived safe-haven assets and currencies on concerns about Japan's nuclear crisis.

The Swiss National Bank meets Thursday and is expected to leave rates on hold because higher rates would boost the franc and could damage the Swiss economy.

Meanwhile the euro zone debt crisis continues to simmer. Portugal's debt agency IGCP will offer between 750 million euros ($1.05 billion) and 1 billion euros of treasury bills in the debt-laden country's first auction Wednesday after a deal struck last weekend brought some relief to the euro zone periphery.

Portugal is likely to face higher one-year borrowing costs however, unable to take full advantage of the deal struck among euro-members as investors take flight due to Japan's disaster.

Euro zone February inflation data is due Wednesday morning as well as the fourth-quarter labor cost index for the region.

UK consumer confidence and unemployment figures, both for February, are also out Wednesday.