European shares were called to open higher on Thursday on fresh hopes that German and European Union officials are exploring ways to rescue Spain's debt-stricken banks, although Madrid has not yet requested assistance.
The FTSE is called to open 44 points higher at 5428, the DAX is seen opening 63 points higher at 6157 and the CAC is expected to open 33 points higher at 3091.
Spain is resisting being placed under international supervision, European sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
It will test its access to the credit markets when it sells bonds on Thursday, though there is growing concern over the government's capacity to prop up ailing banks and go on paying the high interest rates it is being charged.
If Spain were to ask for a rescue package, it would be the intelligent choice and would help restore investors' confidence in the country's banking sector, according to European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council Member Ewald Nowotny..
His comments followed the announcement by the ECB on Wednesdaythat it was leaving its key interest rate unchanged, although it extended some of its liquidity-providing operations in order to help financial markets cope with the effects of the euro zone's debt crisis.
ECB President Mario Draghi pledged that the bank would act firmly and in a timely manner on inflation, but added that inflation expectations for the euro area "continue to be firmly anchored" and "underlying price pressures continue to be subdued." Thursday sees the Bank of England announce its decision on interest rate policy and possible further monetary easing.
A slump in British manufacturing activity and a deepening sense of crisis in the euro zonehave boosted the chances that the Bank will opt for more economic stimulus, only a month after deciding to pause its quantitative easing program.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged euro zone leaders on Wednesday to find a quick solution to the bloc's crisis, saying "speed was of the essence" and any delay would cost jobs.
Cameron added it was wrong for some countries to look only to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a solution as Europe as a whole was required to act.
"I don't think it's fair to lay all of the responsibility on one person...we all need to do the right thing," Cameron said before meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
Elsewhere it emerged that Chinese direct investment into Europe tripled in 2011 to $10 billion, according to a new study that estimates Chinese companies are in the early stages of a global shopping spree that could see them spend as much as $250 billion-$500 billion in the region by 2020.
Asian shares rose on Thursday on hopes for a plan from European policymakers, as well as growing expectations for additional monetary stimulus if major economies deteriorate further.
Such hopes strengthened after U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen made the case for the U.S. central bank to ease monetary conditions.
Yellen's views carry great weight with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and her comments suggest the Fed may be close to taking more easing steps this month in response to ongoing housing problems, a weak jobs market and the escalating euro zone crisis.
The Nasdaq said on Wednesday it would offer $40 million in cashand rebates to clients harmed by its mishandling of Facebook market debut.
But the proposed compensation, subject to approval by regulators, drew sharp criticism from rival exchanges for its use of rebates, and from clients claiming losses far in excess of what Nasdaq is offering.
Social media site LinkedIn said on Wednesday that it had suffered a data breach that compromised the passwords of some of its members.
Finally, in Russia, top lender Sberbank is set to sign a preliminary agreement on Friday to buy failed Franco-Belgian group Dexia's Turkish unit DenizBank, sources close to the deal told Reuters.