Europe Markets to Rise; Greek Vote Still in Focus

European stocks were expected to open higher on Thursday following a crunch vote in the Greek parliament on Wednesday, approving a fresh round of austerity measures in the country and amid optimism that a second vote will pass on Thursday to turn the measures into law.

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The FTSE is seen opening up 17-21 points, or 0.4 percent on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, Germany’s DAX is predicted to be up by 24 points to 7318 and the CAC 40 in France is called 11 points higher at 3935.

European shares reached their highest close in two weeks on Wednesday following the vote in Greece with the FTSE up 89.07 points to 5855.95, the DAX was 123.71 points higher to 7294.14 and the CAC 40 rose by 72.34 points to 3924.23.

In the US, stocks closed higher for the third consecutive day, led by banks amid end-of-quarter window - dressing and amid optimism that Greece will secure a second EU-IMF bailout.

In Asia, stocks rose on Thursday after Greece moved closer to securing aid and away from a possible default.

The euro rose to two-week highs against the dollar on Thursday, swept higher by a wave of stop-loss buying and extending a rally after news from Greece.

The single currency rose as high as $1.4498 and against the safe-haven Swiss franc, the euro climbed to 1.2069 francs, pulling further away from a record low near 1.1800 francs set recently.

A 'national strike' will be staged in Britain on Thursday as unions protest the government's plans to cut public sector pensions.

At least 750,000 public sector workers are expected to participate in industrial action, including teachers, immigration officers and health service workers.

In Greece, the parliament will vote on a 25 billion euros ($36 billion) austerity package which must be passed by July 3 for the country to receive a second EU-IMF bailout.

The Annual General Shareholders Meeting for TNK-BP will take place in Russia on Thursday where BP's blocked deal with Rosneft is expected to be discussed.

In London, Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio will present his strategic review of the company after succeeding Eric Daniels on March 1.

ECB President Jean Claude Trichet will speak in Brussels at a European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Quarterly Testimony.

Economic data out on Thursday includes German retail sales figures for May at 7:00 London time, followed by unemployment figures for June out at 10:00.

French PPI data for May will be available from 7:45 and EU flash estimate euro area inflation data will be released at 10:00 London time.

In the UK, low cost airline Flybe preliminary results are due out on Thursday as are prelims for Green King and HMV group.