- US data beats consensus forecasts
- German business confidence falls
- UK inflation eases
- Crimea turmoil continues
FTSE 100: 1.30%
CAC 40: 1.59%
FTSE MIB: 0.95%
IBEX 35: 0.78%
Stoxx 600: 1.29%
European stocks gained following the release of better-than-expected US consumer confidence and housing data.
The Conference Board's US consumer confidence index rose to 82.3 in March from 78.3 in February, beating the consensus estimate of 78.5.
Capital Economics said the rebound in confidence reflects "mainly a reversal of the weather effects from a month ago".
Another report in the US showed new home sales fell by 3.3% in February following a 3.2% increase a month earlier. Despite the fall, it beat predictions by economists for a drop of 4.9%.
Also providing a lift to stocks today were resource stocks, including Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, as recent disappointing data from China raised hopes the People's Bank of China will boost monetary easing.
German business confidence, UK inflation
German business confidence slumped for the first time in five months in March. Ifo Institute's business climate index fell to 110.7 in March from 111.3 in February, surprising analysts who had expected a reading of 110.9.
Elsewhere in the region, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said that he didn't completely rule out the possibility of the European Central Bank (ECB) embarking on a new quantitative easing (QE) programme.
Weidmann, a typically hawkish member of the ECB, reportedly told MNI in an interview published on Tuesday that the monetary authority needed to debate further on its next step.
In the UK, the consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.5% month-on-month and 1.7% year-on-year in February, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), moving further away from the Bank of England's 2% target.
In January inflation fell 0.6% month-on-month and rose 1.9% year-on-year. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 0.5% on the month and 1.7% year-on-year.
The Group of Seven leaders said they will not attend a planned G8 meeting which was to be held in at Sochi, the Russian site of the Winter Olympics, and will instead hold their own summit in June in Brussels.
It comes after the US and European Union expanded its sanctions over Russia's decision to annex Crimea from Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Interfax news agency that Moscow was keen to maintain contact with its G8 partners.
"The Russian side continues to be ready to have such contacts at all levels, including the top level. We are interested in such contacts," he said.
Meanwhile Ukraine's acting defence minister, Ihor Tenyukh, today tendered his resignation amid criticism over the way the crisis in Crimea has been handled.
Kingfisher jumped after reporting a rise in annual adjusted pre-tax profit that beat the consensus forecast.
Luxottica advanced as the world's largest maker of glasses said it will design, develop and sell spectacles that use Google Glass technology.
easyJet moved higher after the European airline raised its guidance for the first half to a pre-tax loss of £55m to £65m from a January estimate for a loss of as much as £90m.
Royal Mail declined after the UK postal service said it plans to cut about 1,600 jobs.
PostNL surged after JP Morgan upgraded its rating on the Dutch postal company to 'overweight' from 'neutral'.
Baloise gained after the Swiss insurer unexpectedly increased its dividend.
The euro fell 0.25% to $1.3804.
Brent crude futures rose $0.345 to $107.180 per barrel, according to the ICE.