- Obama considers Russia's Syria proposal
- UK unemployment rate and jobless claims drop
- Italian 10-year bond yields fall
FTSE 100: -0.02
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FTSE MIB: 0.93%
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Stoxx 600: 0.30%
European stocks edged mostly higher at midday Wednesday as investors breathed a sigh of relief over the delay of a US vote on military action in Syria.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday night said he will pursue Russia's proposal to have Syria relinquish its chemical weapons to international control.
Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad's government said it would agree to the recommendation in exchange for avoiding US military strikes.
However, Obama insisted that the US must take action, if needed, in response to the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians on August 21st.
"It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments," Obama said.
Craig Erlam, Market Analyst at Alpari Research, added: "The only question now is whether Assad will go along with the proposal, or whether this is, as some suspect, just a tactic to delay the vote in Congress.
"Whichever it is, the markets are liking it. The news that Obama has asked Congress to hold off on voting on military action spurred on gains in US and Asian equities overnight."
Also in the US, the Commerce Department will release a report which is expected to show inventories at wholesalers rose 0.3% in July after a 0.2% fall in June, according to forecasts.
UK unemployment rate falls
The UK unemployment rate fell to 7.7% in the three months through July from 7.8% in the previous quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It beat expectations for the rate to hold steady and marked the lowest rate since the quarter through November last year, adding to speculation the Bank of
England (BoE) might raise interest rates sooner than anticipated.
BoE Governor, Mark Carney, has vowed that interest rates would remain at a record low of 0.5% as long as the unemployment rate holds above 7%.
The number of people claiming jobless benefits fell by 32,600 in August compared to a revised fall of 36,300 in July, the biggest decline since June 1997. Economists had forecast a drop of 21,000.
Employers added 80,000 jobs in July, up from 69,000 in June and above consensus for 55,000.
ARM gains on iPhone unveiling
British multinational semiconductor and software design company ARM topped the European risers after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone models, which was seen as a potential earnings boost for the firm.
Kingfisher declined after the home-improvement retailer said first-half adjusted pre-tax profit fell to miss estimates.
Tesco rallied after disposing of the bulk of its loss-making Fresh & Easy chain, as it prepares to exit the US market.
Campari jumped following reports the alcoholic liquor company opened a new bottling plant in the US.
Brent crude futures climbed $0.794 to $112.140 per barrel on the ICE.
The euro dipped 0.02% to the 1.3265 US dollar
Italy's 10-year bond yields were above Spain's for a second day amid speculation a vote on whether to throw out Silvio Berlusconi from Italy's Senate will destabilise the coalition government. The Italian yield dropped 3 basis points to 4.51% and Spain's fell 3 basis points to 4.48%.