European stocks edged higher on Tuesday morning following the long Christmas weekend, helped by a late rally on Wall Street on Friday where better-than-expected macro data fuelled hopes for the global economy.
At 8:47 a.m. (British time), the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 991.94 points in anaemic volumes as UK markets remain closed. The euro zone’s blue chip Euro STOXX 50 .STOXX50E index was up 0.5 percent at 2,300.74 points.
Investors awaited the U.S. Conference Board’s December consumer confidence data, with economists in a Reuters survey expecting a reading of 58.3 compared with 56.0 in November.
“Not many people are around, so we have no clear direction. People will turn their attention to the U.S. market later on, and the consumer confidence data could give new impetus to the Christmas rally,” a Paris-based trader said.
Tech shares led the gains on Tuesday, along with defensive sectors such as healthcare and utilities, eclipsing a dip in banking shares following recent brisk gains.
SAP (SAPG.DE) rose 1.3 percent, Bayer (BAYGn.DE) was up 1 percent, while UniCredit (CRDI.MI) was down 2.2 percent and AXA (AXAF.PA) down 0.4 percent.
Shares in Swiss oil refiner Petroplus Holdings (PPHN.S) plummeted nearly 40 percent after the company said lenders have frozen about $1 billion (639 million pounds) under its revolving credit facility.
European stock indexes have underperformed their U.S. peers this year, dragged down by fears the euro zone debt crisis could lead to massive defaults and push the region into a new recession.
The FTSEurofirst 300 is down 11.6 percent on the year, the Euro STOXX 50 index down 18 percent, the DAX down 14.6 percent, the CAC 40 down 18.1 percent and the FTSE 100 .FTSE down 6.6 percent.