Investors nudged stocks higher even after an upset for Marine Le Pen and Emanuelle Macron in a televised pre-election debate overnight in France and ahead of the start of a much awaited meeting between the leaders of China and the US the next day.
Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's economic proposals came under attack in a televised debate which this time included all eleven presidential candidates. Indeed, she wasn´t even the most vociferous on so-called Frexit, saying she wanted to avoid a 'hard' exit from the European Union.
That saw her far-left rival Jean Luc Melenchon take the lead in an Elabe poll of 1,024 viewers conducted after the debate, 25% of whom said he was the most convinving of the lot, versus 21% for Macron, while another poll from Opinionway showed him tied for first place with centrist Macron at 18%.
As of 0831 GMT the Stoxx 600 was up 0.10% at 380.40, as the Dax gave back 0.05% to 12,276.53 and the Cac-40 edged higher by 0.15% to 5,108.95.
"Calls for a positive open come after Wall St gains were bettered by Asian bourses overnight. This in spite of more sabre rattling from North Korea which likely launched another missile in response to US threats and as a well-timed message before tomorrow's crucial US-China Presidential meeting.
"In terms of geopolitics, North Korea adds to a worsening situation in Syria, fallout from last night's French presidential election debate (Mélenchon win?) as well as a tenuous Brexit-Gibraltar-Spain story. Event risk also exists with Fed minutes tonight and Friday's US jobs report," said Mike Van Dulken, Head of Research at Accendo Markets.
IHS Markit´s final composite euro area purchasing managers index for March rose from 56.0 in February to 56.4 in March, according to a final reading from the survey compiler but undershot a preliminary reading of 56.7.
Still on the economic calendar for Wednesday are the US ADP employment report at 1315 GMT, the ISM non-manufacturing PMI at 1500 GMT and the most recent set of FOMC minutes at 1900 GMT.
Commerzbank has told its work council it is planning 7,800 job cuts as part of the restructuring announced in 2016, Handelsblatt reported.
Analysts at JP Morgan bumped up their target price on French IT consultancy Cap Gemini from 90 to 100, reiterating their Overweight stance and placed it on their Analyst Focus List in replacement for SAP, with the latter remaining at 'Overweight'.
The same broker also expressed a preference for Santander and BBVA over their more domestic-focused Spanish rivals.
A consortium led by Allianz is looking to purchase roughly a third of the 15% stake which Italian motorway group Atlantia has put on the auction block.