European stocks boosted despite Greek concerns

EUROPEAN shares closed higher yesterday, supported by gains in banks and miners while defensive food producers fell, but a lack of clarity over eurozone support for Greece was seen capping further gains for equities.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally closed 0.4 per cent higher at 991.76 points, after falling 0.3 per cent on Friday.

Banks were among the top gainers. HSBC, Societe Generale, UBS and Deutsche Bank were up 0.2-2.6 percent. Barclays rose five per cent ahead of full-year results today.

Investor confidence received a boost early in the session from data showing Japan’s economy grew faster than expected in the fourth quarter with a stimulus-fuelled rebound in domestic demand and a corporate investment revival masking rising deflationary pressure.

However, trading in Europe lacked direction as US markets were closed yesterday for the Presidents’ Day holiday while many Asian exchanges were shut for the Chinese New Year holiday.