Europe seen higher as bets on ECB action rise

European equities are expected to open higher on Tuesday amid speculation that the European Central Bank (ECB) will announce a full-scale bond-buying program when it meets on Thursday.

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.

Germany’s chancellor made a rare public intervention in the debate about money printing by the ECB on Monday, warning it was no substitute for economic reforms in the euro zone, Reuters reported.

The latest reading of the state of the German economy comes on Tuesday when the ZEW economic sentiment index is published at 10a.m. GMT.

In Asia, stock markets turned higher near the end of Tuesday’s morning session, buoyed by China’s fourth quarter gross domestic product, which beat expectations. The economy expanded 7.3 percent on year, a tick higher than the 7.2 percent forecast by analysts. However, 2014 growth came in at 7.4 percent, below the government’s target “of around 7.5 percent” – the lowest reading since 1990.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) trimmed its global growth forecast for 2015-16, cautioning that the boost from lower crude oil prices would be offset by dimmer economic prospects for China, Russia, the euro area, Japan and oil producers.

It expects global growth of 3.5 percent in 2015, versus its previous forecast of 3.8 percent. However, it raised the U.S. growth outlook to 3.6 percent from 3.1 percent.

Political and business leaders have descended on Davos in Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum this week. There will be 40 heads of state and government attending the event including Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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