European stocks were higher on Tuesday, after positive Spanish unemployment data and amid growing hopes the European Central Bank will announce fresh easing measures at its upcoming policy meeting on Thursday.

During European morning trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.48%, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.31%, while Germany’s DAX climbed 0.68%.

Official data showed that the number of unemployed people in Spain rose by 8,100 in August, far below expectations for an increase of 26,000. In July, the number of unemployed people had dropped by 29,800.

Meanwhile, European equities were boosted by mounting expectations that the ECB will implement fresh measures as a way to shore up long term inflation expectations after data last week showed that the annual rate of euro zone inflation slowed to a five year low of 0.3% last month.

Separately, investors continued to monitor developments in Ukraine after European Union leaders threatened over the weekend to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia if Moscow does not scale back its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas (PARIS:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PARIS:SOGN) gained 0.60% and 0.65%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (XETRA:DBKGn) advanced 0.70%.

Among peripheral lenders however, Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo (MILAN:ISP) and Unicredit (MILAN:CRDI) jumped 0.93% and 0.98% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MADRID:SAN) and BBVA (MADRID:BBVA) rose 0.11% and 0.50%.

Elsewhere, French producer of steel pipes Vallourec (PARIS:VLLP) surged 3.95% after UBS raised its rating on the stock to "buy" from "neutral".

Air France-KLM (PARIS:AIRF) added to gains, up 2.82% after Chief Executive Officer Frederic Gagey announced that domestic mid-haul losses will be about half of what they were in 2012.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 rose 0.28%, supported by gains in the mining sector.

Shares in Glencore Xstrata (LONDON:GLEN) and Bhp Billiton (LONDON:BLT) jumped 1.14% and 1.19%, while rivals Rio Tinto (LONDON:RIO) and Vedanta Resources (LONDON:VED) rallied 1.32% and 2.86% respectively.

Financial stocks were also broadly higher, as Barclays (LONDON:BARC) inched up 0.02% and the Royal Bank of Scotland (LONDON:RBS) added 0.11%, while HSBC Holdings (LONDON:HSBA) edged up 0.15% Lloyds Banking (LONDON:LLOY) rose 0.35%.

Meanwhile, Barratt Developments (LONDON:BDEV) led losses on the index, with shares dropping 0.92%. The residential property development company was in the spotlight on Monday after saying that it was investing £100million in new developments in the Aberdeen area.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.21% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.18% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.19% gain.

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