European stocks renained higher on Wednesday, as investors continued to eye the Federal Reserve's upcoming policy statement due later in the day and as comments by the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday still lent support.
During European afternoon trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.40%, France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.42%, while Germany’s DAX added 0.23%.
European equities found support on Tuesday after the IMF said the European Central Bank should consider all unconventional measures, including quantitative easing, and should implement them as soon as they are ready.
Investors remained cautious however, after Reuters reported on Monday that a Russian soldier had shot dead a Ukrainian naval officer in Crimea.
This came after a pro-Russian protest in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, where demonstrators stormed government buildings in several major cities.
Financial stocks remained mixed, as BNP Paribas (BNPP.PAR) dropped 0.73% and Societe Generale (SOGN.PAR) edged up 0.09% in France, while Germany's Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.XETRA) (NYSE:DB) climbed 0.44%
Among peripheral lenders, Unicredit (CRDI.MILAN) dropped 0.99% and Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MILAN) gained 0.76% in Italy, while Spanish banks BBVA (BBVA.MADRID) and Banco Santander (SAN.MADRID) advanced 0.53% and 0.69% respectively.
Elsewhere, Daimler (DAIGn.XETRA) rose 0.46% after the automaker said it is maintaining forecasts that sales will grow faster than those of competitors and operating profit will 'significantly' rise this year.
Indesit (INDm.BS) also remained on the upside, with shares rallying 1.10%, following reports Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) may offer to buy the company.
In London, FTSE 100 gained 0.82%, still supported by gains in the financial sector and after data showed that the U.K. trade deficit narrowed more-than-expected in February.
Shares in Barclays (BARC.LSE) inched up 0.05% and Lloyds Banking (LLOY.LSE) jumped 1.09%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LSE) and HSBC Holdings (HSBA.LSE) surged 1.15% and 1.50% respectively.
Improvement retailer Kingfisher (KGF.LSE) added to gains, up 1.92%, after UBS recommended that investors buy the stock.
Meanwhile, mining stocks turned mixed as Bhp Billiton (BLT.LSE) rose 0.36% and Glencore Xstrata (GLEN.LSE) advanced 0.97%, while Fresnillo (FRES.LSE) slipped 0.22% and Antofagasta (ANTO.LSE) tumbled 1.09%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow 30 futures pointed to a 0.23% rise, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.14% gain, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.29% increase.
Also Wednesday, official data showed that Germany's trade surplus narrowed to €15.7 billion, from €17.3 billion in January, whose figure was revised up from an initially estimated surplus of €17.2 billion.
Analysts had expected the trade surplus to expand to €17.8 billion in February.