European equities are expected to open higher on Monday as investors look ahead to Thursday’s European Central Bank (ECB) meeting.

Global markets are awaiting the ECB’s policy decision on Thursday, when it is widely expected to announce a government bond buying plan to stimulate the deflation-hit euro zone.

Meanwhile in Asia, Chinese shares tumbled on Monday due to sharp declines in the financial and property sectors, while a positive handover from Wall Street underpinned gains in the rest of Asia.

The sell-off came a day before the release of China’s fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) on Tuesday. The report is expected to show the economy grew 7.2 percent on year, according to a Reuters poll, down from 7.3 percent in the third quarter. Data released over the weekend, which showed new home prices in China fell 4.3 percent in December from a year ago, also weighed on sentiment.

In the U.S., bond and stock markets are closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Day holiday and the State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama on Tuesday will be closely watched.

In other news, Swiss officials sought to reassure the country on Sunday that a shock decision by the central bank to scrap its cap on the franc would not destabilize the economy, Reuters reported Sunday.

Meanwhile in Greece, where elections are to be held next weekend, Greece’s leftist, anti-austerity party Syriza is holding its lead in opinion polls, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. A survey published Sunday in newspaper To Vima shows Syriza’s lead over the ruling New Democracy widening slightly to 3.1 percentage points from 2.5 percentage points a week earlier.


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