PARIS (dpa-AFX) - The European markets are in positive territory in afternoon trading Thursday, as investors continued to be optimistic about stimulus actions from the U.S. and China. Banking stocks are witnessing buying interest.
The minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting released Wednesday suggested that the central bank is losing patience with the pace of the fragile U.S. economic recovery.
Many members of the Fed said additional monetary policy accommodation is likely warranted unless the economy improves substantially, potentially opening the door for another round of quantitative easing measures at the next meeting in September.
In China, manufacturing sector contracted in August at the fastest pace in nine months, a closely watched survey revealed. The flash HSBC manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to 47.8 from 49.3 in July, mainly due to a fall in factory orders, Markit Economics said.
In economic news, the German economy expanded for the second straight time during the quarter ended June as robust growth in exports and domestic spending offset contraction in investment, data from Destatis showed.
Gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent sequentially in the second quarter, in line with initial estimates, but slower than the 0.5 percent growth seen in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, the Eurozone private sector contracted for the seventh successive month in August, flash estimate from Markit Economics showed. The composite output index rose marginally to 46.6 from 46.5 in July. The reading was forecast to remain unchanged at 46.5.
In France, manufacturing sector contracted at a slower pace in August. The seasonally adjusted purchasing managers' index for the manufacturing sector increased to a four-month high of 46.2 in August from 43.4 in July. Economists were looking for a reading of 43.7.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is rising 0.04 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is gaining 0.03 percent.
The German DAX is gaining 0.19 percent and the French CAC 40 is rising 0.15 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is advancing 0.33 percent and Switzerland's SMI is up 0.12 percent.
In Frankfurt, Deutsche Bank is advancing 1.9 percent and Commerzbank is rising 1.4 percent.
Adidas is gaining 1.7 percent. HeidelbergCement, Infineon Technologies and ThyssenKrupp are notably higher.
Fresenius is declining 1.5 percent and RWE is falling 1.1 percent. Metro and Beiersdorf are dropping notably.
GSW is losing 1.2 percent. Morgan Stanley reduced its rating on the stock.
In Paris, ArcelorMittal is advancing 1.7 percent. STMicroelectronics is gaining 1.5 percent.
Peugeot and Renault are advancing 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Societe Generale is gaining 1.7 percent and Credit Agricole is rising 1.3 percent. BNP Paribas is adding 0.9 percent.
EADS is declining 1.8 percent. Australia's Qantas Airways said it would restructure its Boeing 787 delivery schedule, with potential commitments for the Boeing 787-9 being reduced to 50 from 85.
Carrefour is losing 1.7 percent and Safran is falling 1.1 percent.
In London, Kazakhmys reported a plunge in profit for the first half of the year. The stock is gaining 0.5 percent.
Anglo American and Antofagasta are declining 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Randgold Resources is climbing 4.1 percent and Fresnillo is gaining 3.2 percent.
Diageo is up around 1 percent. The beverages firm posted a higher profit for the fiscal year ended June 30, as net sales grew 8 percent driven mainly by emerging markets growth and higher spirits demand.
HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking and Standard Chartered are in the green while Royal Bank of Scotland is losing moderately.
Petropavlovskis plunging 16.7 percent after first-half profit plummeted.
Deutsche Bank raised Credit Suisse to 'Buy' from 'Hold.' The stock is gaining 1.9 percent in Zurich.
Travel firm Kuoni is losing 7.6 percent. The company reported a wider loss for the first half of the year.
Ahold is falling nearly 3 percent in Amsterdam after the retailer said it expects market conditions to remain difficult and is cautious about the potential impact of rising food commodity costs.
Across Asia/Pacific, markets rose on hopes of stimulus actions. Australia's All Ordinaries added 0.20 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.25 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.2 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.5 percent.
In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages ended on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the Dow posting a modest loss. While the Dow fell 0.2 percent, the Nasdaq rose 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 edged up less than 0.1 percent.
In the commodity space, crude for October delivery is adding $0.55 to $97.81 per barrel and December gold is rising $20.5 to $1661.0 a troy ounce.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX