European markets open higher on 26 July
Styrofoam bull figurines pictured in front of a monitor on the trading floor of Frankfurt's stock exchange.

European markets opened higher on Friday ahead of a raft of corporate earnings updates coming in from across Europe.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index opened 0.4% higher to 300.87

Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX opened 0.5% higher

France's CAC 40 index opened 0.8% higher

Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.58% while Italy's FTSE MIB was up 0.45% in opening deals

Data from Europe this week shows that the eurozone's manufacturing activity is recovering, suggesting European Central Bank Chairman Mario Draghi's controversial methods to battle the eurozone crises are paying off.

A CNBC poll of 10 economists and analysts has awarded Draghi an average score of 8 out of 10 for his performance as ECB chief so far. Draghi said a year ago that he would do "whatever it takes" to protect the single currency.

Market participants will be tracking a raft of company results coming in from the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

British natural gas firm BG Group, broadcast network BSkyB and water company United Utilities Group are due to report earnings during the day.

French carmaker Renault, carrier Air-France KLM, Italian bank Banca Generali, Portuguese bank BES and Spanish banks Banco Popular and Caixabank will also put out earnings updates on Friday.

Market participants will also be tracking Danish annual retail sales data, expected during the day.

In company news, UK-based miner Anglo-American said on Friday its first-half earnings fell 28% after commodity prices declined. Underlying earnings dropped to $1.25bn from $1.74 billion a year ago. The company will dole out a dividend of 32 cents a share.

French oil and gas major Total said its adjusted net profit fell 3% year-on-year in the second quarter, to €2.7bn (£2.3bn , $3.6bn), after lower hydrocarbon prices and refining margins pulled down sales by 4% during the period.

In Asia and the US

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei finished 2.97% lower on Friday. South Korea's Kospi closed 0.06% higher while Australia's S&P/ASX index closed 0.13% higher.

Earlier in Asia, markets were mixed as Japanese stocks fell sharply ahead of the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting next week.

The Fed's two day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, beginning 30 July, could provide more clarity on the future pace of US monetary stimulus.

In Japan, government data showed that consumer prices in June rose at their fastest annual pace since November 2008, suggesting that inflation in Asia's third largest economy is picking up speed, after two decades of deflation. The core consumer price index rose 0.4% year-on-year in June, entering positive territory after a flat reading in May.

In China, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan has said the bank would continue to operate a practical monetary policy and help improve financing conditions for small firms

Earlier this week, China's cabinet announced minor stimulus measures to boost slowing growth in the world's second largest economy. Beijing said it would eliminate taxes on small businesses, reduce costs for exporters and increase government investments in the railways.

Beijing is trying to steer the economy towards domestic consumption and demand, and away from its dependency on manufacturing and exports. China's labour ministry warned on Thursday that the transition could lead to job losses.

On Wall Street, indices posted modest gains on Thursday. The Dow finished 13.37 points higher at 15,555.61, led by energy major Chevron.

The S&P 500 closed 4.31 points higher at 1,690.25, while the Nasdaq ended 25.59 points higher at 3,605.19.