PARIS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - European stocks are set to rise on Thursday, gaining ground for the fourth straight session and buoyed by data showing China's manufacturing sector expanded for the first time in 13 months. Trading volumes were expected to be thin, however, as Wall Street will be closed for the Thanksgiving Day. At 0739 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were up 0.3-0.4 percent. The China HSBC Flash Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) climbed to 50.4 in November, the latest signal that the world's second-biggest economy has started to recover. Renewed expectations of a Greek loan deal following comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel also boosted investor sentiment, with the euro hitting 6-1/2 month high against the yen on Thursday. Merkel said on Wednesday a deal to release emergency aid for Greece was still possible next Monday at a meeting of European finance ministers. Investors' attention will be on Spain's debt auction of up to 3.5 billion euros of bonds, with results expected at around 0940 GMT. Investors will focus on the overall demand for the bonds, as well as the yields, seeking insight on the tensions surrounding the country's debt. Investors will also keep a close eye on manufacturing data for France, Germany and the euro zone, to be released early on Thursday. European stocks have been rallying this week, with the euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index surging 3.8 percent, on mounting expectations that a deal would be reached in Washington to avoid a 'fiscal cliff' of spending cuts and tax rises that automatically kick in the new year is there is no political agreement on the budget. Analysts and economists fear the policy stand-off could drag the U.S. economy back into recession. On Wednesday, the Euro STOXX 50 managed to close above its 50-day moving average for the first time in two weeks, sending a positive technical signal. The index's next resistance level is at 2,550 points, representing a downward trendline formed by peaks in September and October. "The trend is clearly bullish," Aurel BGC chartist Gerard Sagnier said. "The recent bear trap, the rebound in the S&P 500 and short covering are also fuelling this rally. Indexes are set to test 2012 highs, which represents about 3-4 percent in upside potential." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0738 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,391.03 0.23 % 3.22 NIKKEI 9,366.80 1.56 % 144.28 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 516.47 0.68 % 3.48 EUR/USD 1.2851 0.18 % 0.0023 USD/JPY 82.55 0.06 % 0.0500 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.680 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 1.439 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,730.05 0.09 % $1.52 US CRUDE $87.62 0.27 % 0.24 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares rise on firm China, US factory data > S&P 500 gains for fourth session on light volume > Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes up 1.56 pct > FOREX-Euro supported by Greece aid hopes, hits 6-mth peak vs yen > Gold ticks up ahead of possible Greek bailout deal > Copper rebounds as China economy recovers > Brent near $111 on uptick in China economy; U.S. stock draw COMPANY NEWS: BAYER RECKITT BENCKISER GROUP Reckitt Benckiser has signed an agreement to acquire Schiff Nutrition for $1.4 billion, beating out Bayer and winning its entry into a $30 billion vitamins and nutrition supplements market. SWISS BANKS The sector has not seen foreign clients switching their funds as the banks come under pressure from other countries to help hunt down tax evaders, Claude-Alain Margelisch, chief executive of the Swiss Bankers Association, said on Wednesday. RENAULT Renault plans to create 1,300 jobs in recession-hit Spain under a scheme to boost production at its local plants and after a deal with unions. THYSSENKRUPP The sale of ThyssenKrupp's steel mills in Brazil and the United States will still take months, longer than expected, Suddeutsche Zeitung reported, citing supervisory board sources. SIEMENS The engineering conglomerate said its delivery of high-speed trains to German rail operator Deutsche Bahn would be delayed beyond early December due to technical issues discovered during test runs. TELECOM ITALIA The executive committee of the telecom group meets on Thursday to consider a potential investment by Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris and the spin-off of its fixed line network. SANTANDER Banco Santander is considering a near-term initial public offering of its American car-financing business, according to a recent report. VINCI French construction group Vinci said that a consortium led by its Vinci Concessions unit was named preferred bidder for the Ohio River Bridges Project's East End Crossing in Indiana, a contract worth around $1 billion. LUFTHANSA The airline's finance chief Simone Menne denied in an interview with Boersen-Zeitung that the company is accelerating a sale of LSG Sky Chefs. She also said IT unit Lufthansa Systems was not up for sale. ACTELION Actelion has submitted heart and lung drug macitentan to European health regulators, the second major step for the drug the Swiss group is positioning as a viable successor to its current top seller.