European stocks were higher on Friday, as disappointing German retail sales fuelled further speculation over the possibility of fresh easing measures by the European Central Bank.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.67%, France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.57%, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.48%.

Official data showed that German retail sales declined 1.4% in July, disappointing expectations for a 0.1% rise, after a 1.0% gain in June, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated 1.3% advance.

The report came a day after data showed that the number of unemployed people in Germany rose by 2,000 last month, confounding expectations for a decline of 5,000.

Investors were eyeing upcoming reports on consumer price inflation and unemployment from the euro zone for further indications on the bloc's economy.

Financial stocks were broadly lower, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) gained 0.93% and 0.95%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) rose 0.37%.

Among peripheral lenders however, Italy's Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) and Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) jumped 1.15% and 1.41% respectively, while Spanish banks BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) and Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) advanced 0.36% and 0.78%.

Elsewhere, Hermes International (PARIS:HRMS) saw shares climb 0.92% after the French luxury retailer repeated its forecasts and reported a 6.3% increase in first-half earnings.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 rose 0.34%, led by Astrazeneca (LONDON:AZN), up 2.27%, after as UBS said the pharmaceutical company's treatment for colorectal cancer has moved to the next stage of testing.

Mining companies added to gains, as Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) advanced 0.89% and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) jumped 0.99%, while Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) and Vedanta Resources (LONDON:VED) rallied 1.09% and 1.37% respectively.

In the financial sector, stocks were also broadly higher. Shares in Barclays (LONDON:BARC) rose 0.62% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) climbed 0.72%, while HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) gained 0.75% and Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) advanced 0.90%.

Meanwhile, Tesco (LONDON:TSCO) led losses on the index with shares plunging 7.63%, after the retailer lowered its full-year profit forecast to a range of £2.4 billion to £2.5 billion and cut its interim dividend by 75%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.20% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.20% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.20% increase.

Later in the day, the U.S. was to release a report on personal spending and revised data from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment.

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