LONDON Jan 24 European shares scaled new heights on Thursday on signs of growth in Germany, the region's economic powerhouse, which strengthened expectations that the region's sovereign debt crisis may be easing.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed up 0.3 percent at 1,170.83 points - a new closing high for 2013 and near its best level since early March 2011.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also gained 0.5 percent to 2,721.48 points, with stock markets further boosted after the U.S. S&P 500 index rose above a key 1,500 points level for the first time since December 2007.
Germany's benchmark DAX equity index advanced by 0.6 percent to 7,750.04 points, boosted by a survey that showed that German private sector activity had risen to its highest level in a year in January.
Dealers and investors remained confident that European equities would rise further this year, despite signs of economic weakness elsewhere in France.
"We've really concentrated on German equities. The economy is still looking strong," said Mirabaud Securities European equity sales executive Rupert Baker.
"People want to see the glass half-full," he added.