London: European shares rose on Thursday, ahead of a European Union meeting to help heavily indebted Greece as investors focus on sovereign debt concerns, while oil majors gained as commodity prices eased off lows.
European Union leaders will hold a two-day summit, divided over how to help heavily indebted Greece and struggling to maintain confidence in the euro.
By 12:43pm, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares was up 0.4% at 1,076.38 points.
Oil majors were higher, as crude prices eased off lows to trade just above $81 a barrel, as the dollar pared gains ahead of the EU summit.
BP, BG, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and ENI rose 0.2 to 0.7%.
Focus on sovereign debt problems is likely to persist, after a Fitch downgrade of Portugal’s debt rating on Wednesday and a pledge by Dubai’s government to support the restructuring of debt-laden state-owned firms Dubai World and Nakheel by providing $9.5 billion in new funding.
“The Greek problem hasn’t gone away and you have got the Portugese downgrade reminding us that the so-called PIGS economies are still vulnerable. The Greek problem would affect markets more if it spread significantly to Spain. That would be the bigger worry,” said Bernard McAlinden, investment strategist at NCB Stockbrokers.
Among other gainers, Next led general retailers higher, up 4.9%, after it beat company guidance with an 18% rise in 2009/10 profit. Marks & Spencer, Intidex and Kingfisher rose 0.9 to 1.9%.