(Updates futures prices, adds company news)
LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - European shares headed for a higher open on Thursday, tracking strong gains on Wall Street, with investors focusing on a meeting of the European Central Bank later in the day and U.S. jobs data on Friday for hints about the market's near-term direction.
The ECB is set to cut its inflation forecasts because of falling oil prices and China's economic slowdown, and it will probably promise to beef up its bond-buying programme if prospects weaken further. It is expected to leave rates unchanged.
Investors will keep a close eye on Friday's U.S. jobs data, which could provide clues about the Federal Reserve's likely move to raise interest rates.
"ADP employment in the U.S. was slightly below expectations at 190,000. This may mean that the all-important non-farm payrolls data on Friday could similarly undershoot," IG analyst Angus Nicholson said in a note.
"Market pricing for a rate hike at the Fed's 16-17 September meeting is steadily being unwound; it now sits at 30 percent."
Futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Germany's DAX, France's CAC 40 and Britain's FTSE were up 0.8 to 1.0 percent at 0653 GMT.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 0.2 percent higher on Wednesday, while major U.S. share indexes finished 1.8 to 2.5 percent stronger.
Swiss agrichemicals group Syngenta AG plans to sell its vegetable seeds business and buy back more than $2 billion worth of stock in a campaign to boost shareholder returns after it rejected a takeover approach from Monsanto Co .
British low-cost airline easyJet raised its full-year profit forecast by around 7 percent after record passenger numbers in August helped to offset the higher costs the group has faced this year.
The drugmaker is likely to publish on Friday its "intention to float" the plastics subsidiary Covestro, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited people familiar with the plan a saying.
Lannett Co Inc said it would buy Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc, a U.S. unit of Belgian drugmaker UCB SA, for $1.23 billion to expand its specialty generic drugs portfolio.
The carmakers have won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Nokia's maps business for around 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.
German banks are likely to face higher capital buffers as a result of a supervisory review process due to conclude in the coming weeks, the head of the country's financial watchdog Bafin said on Wednesday.
French media group Vivendi reported higher second-quarter profit on Wednesday, helped by strong growth in its Universal Music division, and said recent asset sales could enable it to consider more acquisitions in the future.
The energy major gained EU approval on Wednesday for its $58 billion acquisition of Britain's BG Group, the second of four key markets needed to clear the deal, but faced a slight delay in securing a decision in Australia.
French state-controlled utility EDF said on Thursday the EPR nuclear reactor it is building in Flamanville, Normandy, will again be delayed to 2018 and raised the cost estimate to 10.5 billion euros ($11.85 billion) from an initial budget of 3 billion.
The miner predicted global iron ore demand will grow by 2 percent a year to 3 billion tonnes by 2030, which means new supply of the key steel-making ingredient will be needed.
Standard & Poor's on Thursday cut its outlook for Glencore to 'negative' from 'stable' after slashing its price forecasts for metals and amid uncertainties about China's economic outlook.
A U.S. appeals court has cleared the way for Novartis to launch the first biosimilar drug in the United States as it declined on Wednesday to stop the sale of the company's copycat version of Amgen Inc's blockbuster cancer drug Neupogen.
French IT services group Altran reports a 34 percent rise in net income and says 2015 will be another year of profitable growth.
The UK bank said it would sell its Portugal-based non-core assets to Spain's Bankinter SA for about 175 million euros ($197.47 million), as part of chairman John McFarlane's turnaround plan to sell assets and cut costs.
The UK chip designer will collaborate with IBM.
London-focused housebuilder Berkeley Group has replaced valve and pump maker Weir Group in Britain's FTSE 100 index following a quarterly reshuffle, FTSE Group announced.
France is confident it will sell 18 Dassault-built fighter jets to Malaysia after submitting a formal proposal, a senior diplomatic source said on Wednesday - extra firepower for one of China's neighbours in the South China Sea.
Faurecia selected as strategic partner of Volkswagen Group
Vinci acquires French cloud builder APX Intégration.
Following the completion of the merger to create LafargeHolcim, an exceptional scrip dividend of one new LafargeHolcim Ltd share for every twenty existing LafargeHolcim Ltd shares will be distributed to all LafargeHolcim Ltd shareholders as announced earlier, the company said on Thursday.
Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of online fashion group Net-A-Porter (NAP) abruptly resigned on Wednesday ahead of its planned acquisition by Italy's Yoox. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > Asia shares stage patchy recovery but volatility remains high > Wall Street surges as turbulence becomes the norm > Nikkei up as bargain hunters enjoy temporary respite amid China break > Prices slip on risk appetite, possible central bank selling > Dollar rises with stocks as yen and euro slip, ECB awaited > Gold slips on firmer dollar; U.S. jobs data eyed for cues > London copper holds ground in holiday-thinned trade > Oil prices fall on U.S. crude stocks build, but equity rally supports (Reporting by Atul Prakash)