European equity benchmarks were extending gains on Tuesday buoyed by positive trading updates from supermarket stocks, a drop in the region's unemployment rate and rising oil futures prices.
In economic news, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell to 8.7% in the Eurozone in November, down from 8.8% in October and from 9.8% in November, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the European Union. This is the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since January 2009.
In equities, department store and grocer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) was leading the gainers on London's FTSE 100 Index, up by 3.4% after a positive report from research company Kantar indicated that supermarket sales had increased in value by 3.8% in the 12 weeks to December 31 2017,with an additional 1 billion pounds ($1.35 billion) ringing through the tills compared to the same festive period last year.
Morrison WM Supermarkets (MRW.L) was close behind, up by 2.1% after posting what it described a "especially strong" sales over the Christmas and New Year period with group like-for-like sales up by 3.7% in the six weeks to January 7. Business intelligence company Informa (INF.L) was up by 2% and apparel retailer Next (NXT.L) was trading 1.9% higher.
Shares in Altice N.V. (AT.AS) were 8.2% higher after the Dutch telecommunications and media company, issued a statement on Monday saying that it had approved plans for the separation of Altice USA Inc. ( ATUS ) from Altice NV, which is to be renamed 'Altice Europe'.
On Frankfurt's DAX, electricity utility company RWE (RWE.DE) was trading 2.3% higher, Henkel vz (HEN3.DE), a chemical and consumer goods company, was up by 1.3%, Siemens (SIE.DE), a supplier of systems for power generation, was 0.9% higher and Merck, a pharmaceutical company, was up by 0.8%. And, on Paris' CAC-40, Publicis (PUB.PA), an advertising and public relations company, was up by 1.8%, Vivendi (VIV.PA), a media conglomerate, was 1.7% higher and hotel operator Accor (AC.PA) was also 1.7% higher. Consultancy Cap Gemini (CAPF8.PA) was trading 1.6% higher.
Oil futures prices meanwhile were higher ahead of weekly inventory forecasts with West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, the main US oil benchmark, up by 0.2% at $61.88 per barrel while Brent crude, the international gauge, was 0.1% higher at $67.83 per barrel in recent trade. The American Petroleum Institute is forecast to publish its weekly US stockpile projections later in the day.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index was 0.33% higher, London's FTSE 100 Index was up by 0.,30%, Frankfurt's DAX was up by 0.18% and Paris' CAC-40 was 0.51% higher at the time of writing.
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