LONDON Feb 1 European shares inched up on Friday, as investors took advantage of the past two sessions' losses to snap up equities more cheaply, reassured by a run of solid data from China, Europe and the United States.
An above-forecast reading on the U.S. manufacturing sector from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), coupled with upward revisions for previous months' non-farm payrolls offered proof of recovery in the world's biggest economy.
That helped equities build on earlier gains after purchasing managers indexes pointed to stabilisation in the euro zone and a mild recovery in China.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,167.62 points, clawing back some of the retreat suffered in the previous two sessions and edging towards a 2-year peak of 1,178.55 set earlier in the week.
"Given the trauma that equities have been through in the last few months, people want things to be positive. There are hurdles ahead but people are just willing the markets to do really well," said Neil Marsh, strategist at Newedge.
"There is a gradual trend upwards and I don't see that stopping at the moment."