- Yellen to deliver first testimony
- UK retail sales rise
- Chinese interbank lending rates ease
FTSE 100: 0.82%
CAC 40: 0.67%
FTSE MIB: 0.41%
Stoxx 600: 0.77%
European stocks edged higher as investors waited on Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to deliver her first testimony on monetary policy.
Yellen, who took over the helm from Ben Bernanke earlier this month, will present her testimony before the House Financial Services Committee today.
It comes after the Fed last month decided to reduce monthly bond purchases by $10bn to $65bn, its second round of tapering.
A weaker-than-expected monthly jobs report from the Labor Department on Friday fuelled speculation that the central bank might hold back on further cuts at its next meeting in March.
"The stance of the Fed is unlikely to have changed in recent months, despite the fact that the data has been largely disappointing, particularly job creation," Alpari analyst Craig Erlam.
"With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what kind of an impact it would have on the markets if Yellen hinted at a slowing of tapering."
In the UK, figures showed this morning that like-for-like retail sales rose by 3.9% in January compared with the year before, according to the British Retail Consortium/KPMG sales monitor. This was much higher than the 0.4% growth registered in December and the 0.8% increase expected by analysts.
Meanwhile, interbank lending rates in China eased overnight following the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, while the People's Bank of China reportedly refrained from conducting reverse-repurchase operations.
Barclays, Peugeot Citroen
Barclays tumbled after reporting a 32% fall in adjusted annual pre-tax profit, reflecting restricting costs and a drop in income at the Investment Bank.
PSA Peugeot Citroen rallied after Goldman Sachs added the company to its 'conviction buy' list.
Michelin & Cie. edged higher after Europe's largest tyre maker reported a fall in 2013 operating profit that missed analysts' estimates.
L'Oreal slipped, after rising earlier, following news the beauty products firm will pay €3.4bn in cash for 27.3m shares
held by Nestlé.
Alcatel-Lucent dropped after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the French network supplier to 'equal weight' from 'overweight'.
Actelion gained after the Swiss drugmaker said growth in earnings excluding some items will be in the low single digits at constant exchange rates, compared with a previous forecast for earnings at least at the same level as last year.
The euro was up 0.14% to $1.3665.
Brent crude futures rose $0.394 to $109.060 per barrel, according to the ICE.