Paris: European stocks edged higher on Tuesday morning following the long Christmas weekend, helped by a late rally on Wall Street on Friday where better-than-expected macro data fuelled hopes for the global economy.
At 02:15 pm, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2% at 991.94 points in anaemic volumes as UK markets remain closed. The euro zone’s blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.5% at 2,300.74 points.
Investors awaited the US Conference Board’s December consumer confidence data, with economists in a Reuters survey expecting a reading of 58.3 compared with 56.0 in November.
“Not many people are around, so we have no clear direction. People will turn their attention to the US market later on, and the consumer confidence data could give new impetus to the Christmas rally,” a Paris-based trader said.
Tech shares led the gains on Tuesday, along with defensive sectors such as healthcare and utilities, eclipsing a dip in banking shares following recent brisk gains.
SAP rose 1.3%, Bayer was up 1%, while UniCredit was down 2.2% and AXA down 0.4%.
Shares in Swiss oil refiner Petroplus Holdings plummeted nearly 40% after the company said lenders have frozen about $1 billion under its revolving credit facility.
European stock indexes have underperformed their US peers this year, dragged down by fears the euro zone debt crisis could lead to massive defaults and push the region into a new recession.
The FTSEurofirst 300 is down 11.6% on the year, the Euro STOXX 50 index down 18%, the DAX down 14.6%, the CAC 40 down 18.1% and the FTSE 100 down 6.6%.