- M&A activity boosts stocks
- Eurozone inflation revised lower
- US industrial and manufacturing data out
- US and EU impose sanctions on Ukraine and Russia
FTSE 100: 0.62%
CAC 40: 1.32%
FTSE MIB: 2.52%
IBEX 35: 1.66%
Stoxx 600: 1.12%
European stocks extended gains as a pick-up in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity offset concerns over falling Eurozone inflation and geopolitical tensions in Russia and Ukraine.
The announcement this morning of several M&As, including from Vodafone, RWE and Allianz, lifted sentiment in markets.
Vodafone rallied as the telecommunications company agreed to buy Spanish cable operator Grupo Corporativo Ono SA.
RWE was higher after L1 Energy agreed to spend €5.1bn on the utility's Dea division.
Allianz SE jumped after the insurer said it was buying assets from Italy's Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA.
Eurozone inflation revised downwards
The preliminary estimate for consumer price inflation in the Eurozone in February has been revised slightly lower.
The region's consumer price index (CPI) is now estimated to have risen by 0.7% on the year, compared to the 0.8% increase initially calculated and the 0.8% advance seen in January, updated figures from Eurostat revealed.
The month-on-month rate of change was also revised down, to show a gain of 0.3% versus the previous estimate of 0.4%.
The European Central Bank (ECB), which is targeting inflation of just under 2%, is likely to face more pressure to enact greater measures to tackle falling prices.
US industrial and manufacturing data
US industrial figures showed output rose 0.6% in February, compared to a revised 0.2% drop in January and the forecast for a 0.2% rise.
Another report showed manufacturing production in the US rose in February by 0.8% in February following a revised 0.9% slump in the prior month.
A separate gauge of manufacturing in the New York area rose less than forecast last month, climbing to 5.61 from 4.48. Analysts had predicted 6.50.
US and EU impose sanctions on Ukraine and Russia
The European Union (EU) and US have imposed travel bans and asset freezes against nearly two dozen officials from the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
This is in response to Sunday's referendum in the breakaway region of Crimea, which saw 97% of voters purportedly cast their ballots in favour of leaving Ukraine to re-join Russia.
Initial market reaction has been calm, with analysts at RBS pointing out how only 3% of European exports have Russia as their final destination. Russia supplies a third of Europe's oil and gas - 55% of the gas exported to the EU flows through Ukrainian territory - but markets seem to have shrugged off the news on expectations that disruptions will be avoided.
Porsche Automobil Holdings climbed after a German court dismissed a lawsuit brought by hedge funds against the luxury carmaker.
Siemens AG surged after Bank of America Corp. upgraded Europe's largest engineering company to 'buy' from 'neutral'.
UK housebuilders including Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey advanced after UK Chancellor George Osborne announced that he will extend the Help-to-Buy stimulus programme until 2020 from its current expiry date of April 2016.
Pirelli & C. SpA slumped after saying that OAO Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer, has become its largest investor.
Linde AG declined after the producer of industrial gases reported fourth-quarter profit that missed analysts' estimates.
The euro rose 0.08% to $1.3925.
Brent crude futures fell $1.444 to $106.670 per barrel, according to the ICE.