The major European indices closed higher in Thursday trading as a broad range of stocks helped buoy the London, Frankfurt and Paris exchanges.
In economic news, European Council President Donald Tusk said in a Tweet that he will appeal to the EU27 "to be open to a long extension" if the UK seeks to push back its March 29 deadline to leave the EU in order to "rethink it's Brexit strategy and build consensus around it."
On Wednesday, the UK's parliament voted against the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal, and later Thursday will vote on a motion that could delay the departure.
Meanwhile the European Parliament adopted several "no-deal" contingency measures in case the UK eventually leaves without a deal.
The proposals adopted include ensuring for a limited period basic air, road and rail connectivity in a "no-deal" scenario, as well as allowing for continued reciprocal fishing access for EU and UK fisheries until the end of 2019.
The European Union said it has been preparing for a "no-deal" scenario since December 2017. To date, the EC has proposed 19 legislative proposals, 17 of which have been adopted or agreed to by the European Parliament and the EC, with the remaining two proposals still pending.
"EU's contingency measures will not -- and cannot -- mitigate the overall impact of a 'no-deal' scenario, nor do they in any way compensate for the lack of preparedness or replicate the full benefits of EU membership," said the EC. "These proposals are temporary in nature, limited in scope and will be adopted unilaterally by the EU. They are not 'mini-deals' and have not been negotiated with the UK."
In Germany, consumer prices were up 1.5% in February, compared with February 2018, and up 0.4% from the previous month, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). Energy prices were 2.9% higher in February than a year earlier, and had a slight upward effect on the overall inflation rate. The prices of electricity, gas and other fuels were up 4.3% in February 2019 from February 2018, with heating oil recording the highest price increase at 14.2%. Food prices rose 1.4% from February 2018 to February 2019.
In France, the CPI was unchanged in February from January after a 0.4% downturn in December. The rebound in energy prices, which rose 1.3% after falling 1.2% in December was offset by a 1.3% decline in fresh food prices, which rose 2.4% in December.
Compared with the previous year, consumer prices increased 1.3% in February after increasing 1.2% in January. This slight rise in inflation came from a year-on-year acceleration in energy and food prices, which was partly offset by a slowdown in services prices and a higher decrease in prices of manufactured products.
And the harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) rebounded to rise 0.1% over a month in February, after falling 0.6% in January - year over year, it grew by 1.6%, after rising 1.4% the previous month.
And in the UK, research and development (R&D) expenditure rose by GBP1.6 billion to GBP34.8 billion in 2017, an increase of 4.8%, which was above the long-term annual average increase of 4.1% since 1990, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Total R&D expenditure in the UK in 2017 represented 1.69% GDP, up from 1.67% in 2016, but remaining below the EU-28 provisional estimate of 2.07%. The UK ranked 11th among all EU countries' R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2017.
In equities, airline operator easyJet, and automotive retailer Auto Trader Group led the FTSE higher in London, rising 4.2% and 4% respectively, followed by travel company TUI, and media company ITV, which climbed 3.7% and 3%. Online supermarket Ocado Group, and insurance firm Prudential were up 2.7% and 2.3%, while home improvement retailer Kingfisher, and asset management firm St James's Place gained 2.2% and 2.1%.
In Frankfurt, footwear and apparel company Adidas led the DAX into positive territory rising 3.3%, followed by industrial group Thyssenkrupp, and electricity and natural gas supplier RWE, which climbed 2% and 1.9% respectively. Postal services provider Deutsche Post, and pharmaceutical firm Merck increased 1.6% and 1.5%, while personal care company Beiersdorf gained 1.3%.
And in Paris, oilfield services company TechnipFMC, and eyewear maker EssilorLuxottica led the CAC higher climbing 5.1% and 3.3% respectively, followed by construction firm Vinci, which rose 2.2%. Hotel operator Accor, and commercial real estate developer Unibail-Rodamco each gained 2.1%, while luxury goods company Louis Vuitton, cosmetics company L'Oreal, and construction materials supplier Saint-Gobain each closed 1.6% higher.
The FTSE rose 0.37%, the DAX gained 0.13%, and the CAC-40 increased 0.82%.
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