European Factors to Watch-Shares to open higher with ECB in focus

LONDON, April 3 Thu Apr 3, 2014 1:18am EDT

LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - European stocks were seen opening higher on Thursday, with many investors looking towards the European Central Bank (ECB) to give more signs that it is ready to fight deflationary pressures weighing on the euro zone's fragile economic growth.

Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open up by 9-10 points, or 0.2 percent. They also expected Germany's DAX to open higher by 10-12 points, or 0.1 percent, and for France's CAC 40 to open up by 2-4 points, or up by as much as 0.1 percent.

The ECB will announce its interest rate decision at 1145 GMT and ECB President Mario Draghi will explain any further policy decisions at a news conference at 1230 GMT at the central bank's Frankfurt headquarters.

The ECB looks set to keep interest rates steady and offer no new aid to the euro zone's fragile recovery despite a fall in inflation to its lowest in more than four years.

Policymakers have been willing in recent weeks to publicly broach cutting deposit rates below zero - effectively charging banks to hold cash with the ECB - or embarking on bond purchases as the United States, Japan and Britain have.

A straightforward cut in the ECB's main refinancing rate to 0.1 percent from 0.25 percent - or more complex changes to existing market programmes - are other possibilities.

"We expect the ECB to react to lower-than-expected inflation by easing policy at today's meeting. Dovish talk alone is unlikely to satisfy the market," Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Banking (CA-CIB) wrote in a research note.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pad95v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/rav46v ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS -Asian stocks at 4-mth high on solid U.S data, China hopes boost Nikkei > US STOCKS-S&P 500 ends at another record; data puts jobs in focus > Nikkei rises to 3-wk high on China stimulus steps, solid U.S. data > TREASURIES-U.S. bond yields rise after jobs, factory orders data > FOREX-Euro loses verve as caution sets in before ECB review > PRECIOUS-Gold up for 2nd day on short-covering ahead of U.S. jobs data

> METALS-London copper slips on disappointment over China stimulus > Brent near 5-mth low below $105, market braces for Libyan supply (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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