(Adds futures prices)
LONDON, Dec 24 (Reuters) - European shares were expected to be steady at the open on Thursday, with the region's stock markets set to be propped up by gains on Asian and U.S. stock markets.
Futures for Britain's FTSE 100 edged down by 0.1 percent while France's CAC futures rose 0.1 percent, with most European markets having a half-day of trading for the Christmas holiday season.
Asian shares climbed to 2-1/2 week highs on Thursday, heartened by gains on Wall Street and a recovery in crude oil prices in thin trading ahead of the Christmas holiday.
European shares had surged on Wednesday, boosted by gains in commodities stocks on the back of stronger metals and crude oil prices and signs of more economic stimulus measures in China, the world's largest metals consumer.
The European Commission turned down on Wednesday a 2014 rescue plan for the troubled Italian lender Banca Tercas, saying Italy's support broke EU rules on state aid.
An adviser to Europe's highest court said an EU law on cigarettes was valid, rebuffing a challenge from Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco, though the court still has to deliver a final ruling.
BNP Paribas said on Wednesday it is considering "strategic alternatives" for its U.S. unit First Hawaiian Bank which could help France's biggest listed bank reach regulatory capital requirements by mid-2017.
Four Swiss banks will pay a total of more than $178 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid possible prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes, the department said on Wednesday.
In the penalties announced on Wednesday, Basel-based Bank J. Safra Sarasin AG, will pay $85.8 million, the largest share of the total. The sum also includes $78.5 million from Coutts & Co Ltd in Zurich, $11.5 million from Gonet & Cie in Geneva and $2.3 million from Banque Cantonal du Valais in Canton of Valais, Switzerland, the Justice Department said. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares at 2-1/2-wk high, crude oil rebounds > US STOCKS-On Wall Street, oil proffers modest Santa Claus rally > Nikkei edges up as Wall St rally, recovering crude help sentiment > TREASURIES-Yields rise on solid U.S. economic data, oil price gains > FOREX-Currencies subdued in Christmas holiday lull, dollar adrift > PRECIOUS-Gold edges up after 2-day drop in pre-holiday trade > METALS-Copper eyes flat weekly close, down 25 pct this year > U.S. crude rises as supplies tighten, exports loom (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta)