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Europe: Stocks ahead at open as Britons head to polls
[LONDON] Europe's main stock markets drifted higher at the open on Thursday in cautious deals as Britons began voting in a snap general election.
Sentiment was also clouded before an interest rate decision in the eurozone and crucial testimony from sacked FBI chief James Comey in the United States.
In initial trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of major companies added almost 0.1 per cent to 7,485.45 points compared with Wednesday's closing level.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index also gained 0.1 per cent to 12,688.50 points, while the Paris CAC 40 was also marginally higher at 5,264.69.
"Super Thursday is finally here and traders are ready for a volatile day ... with important events in Europe and the US," noted analyst Konstantinos Anthis at ADS Securities.
"The UK goes to the ballot, the European Central Bank (ECB) meets and the former director of the FBI is testifying." Most Asian indices slid Thursday, with energy shares hit by falling oil prices, while investors awaited Britain's election result - and testimony from Mr Comey on his probe into the Trump administration's Russia links.
Britain's Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is still widely expected to beat main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, despite a narrowing in the opinion polls. Results are not due until early Friday.
The election is May's first since taking office in July last year, after Britons voted by 52 per cent to leave the European Union. Brexit negotiations begin on June 19.