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Global Markets Update: Banks Lead European Stocks Higher

Wednesday, 15 Feb 2012 | 6:10 AM ET

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a sharply higher open for Wall Street, as European shares rallied on the back of economic data that was not as bad as expected. Germany's gross domestic product shrank by less than expected, while the euro zone economy shrank but a north-south divide was evident as France grew while Italy contracted. Banks were leading European stocks up, after BNP Paribas hit its earnings targets and said it saw positive signs for the year.