- Eurozone, China and UK manufacturing grows
- Syria fears ease on military action delay
- ECB watching money market rates, says member
FTSE 100: 1.78%
CAC 40: 1.68%
FTSE MIB: 1.56%
IBEX 35: 1.90%
Stoxx 600: 1.87%
Growth in manufacturing activity in the Eurozone, China and the UK helped push European stocks higher at the midday mark.
Markit's Eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to a 26-month high of 51.4 in August, compared to 50.5 in July, driven by growth in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Ireland. A reading above 50 signals expansion.
In China, manufacturing PMI climbed to 50.1 last month from 47.7 in July, according to HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics.
It was the biggest increase in three years and the first reading above 50 since April, pointing to signs the world's second largest economy is strengthening after a two-quarter slowdown.
The UK's Markit/CIP manufacturing PMI jumped to a two-and-a-half year high of 57.2 in August from 54.8 in July, its fifth straight month of expansion.
Also providing a boost to markets was news that an imminent strike on Syria would be delayed as US President Barack Obama seeks congressional authorisation.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad accused Obama of indecision and hesitation as the US leader held back on military response to last month's chemical weapons attack near Damascus until after a congressional vote.
Obama tried to win over Congress on Sunday but faced challenging questions from lawmakers.
Syria's government has continued to deny it used chemical weapons against civilians on August 21st.
"Barack Obama's decision to offer the vote to Congress when it returns next week reduces the likelihood that we'll see any military response unless there is hard evidence that the chemical attacks were carried out by the Assad regime," said Craig Erlam, Market Analyst at Alpari Research.
"Obama, like his UK counterpart, David Cameron, is likely to face staunch opposition from both inside and outside his party, to military action, with memories of the hugely unpopular war in Iraq still fresh in people's memories.
"Investors are unsurprisingly pleased with this delay, with the risk aversion seen towards the end of last week subsiding and money pouring back into European stocks."
ECB's Coeuré eyes money market rates
European Central Bank (ECB) member Benoît Coeuré said that the monetary authority is keeping a close watch on money market rates ahead of its interest rate decision next Thursday.
He said the central bank has also noted that the recovery would be slow and that normalising monetary policy is still a way off.
While speculation continues on whether the US Federal Reserve will begin to reduce its monthly bond purchases, European banks have been paying back the long-term low-rate loans received from the ECB. The reduced liquidity is pushing up rates. "We're watching this process closely and will make sure that money market rates remain at reasonable levels," Coeuré told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri.
Coeuré made clear that the ECB was "not in the position where we can begin normalising monetary policy". He explained that recent data had only confirmed that the recovery is in place, "that we are over the worst".
Mining stocks rally
A gauge of miners surged including Rio Tinto and Anglo American as the price of commodities climbed and manufacturing PMIs grew. Copper jumped 1.8% and silver climbed 2.8%.
Vodafone gained after saying it was in advanced talks with Verizon Communications about selling its US business to Verizon for $130bn.
Alstom advanced after the French multinational conglomerate signed a contract with Minnesota Power to deliver an emission control system which will help reduce the utility company's emissions.
Havas jumped after France's second largest advertising group reported record first half profits.
Other asset classes rise
The euro edged up 0.02% against the 1.3224 US dollar.
Brent crude futures increased $0.114 to $114.140