European stocks, euro extend push higher

European stock markets rose and the euro hit a 20-month high against the yen on Monday as traders brushed aside falling eurozone industrial output to bet on a better outlook for the single currency bloc.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies rose 0.10 percent to 6,126.84 points in late morning trade.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.74 percent to 7,772.26 points and in Paris the CAC 40 climbed 0.51 percent to 3,725.08.

"After the uncertainties of 2012, ranging from the eurozone crisis to the (US) fiscal cliff... the mood is now bullish," said Neil MacKinnon, analyst at VTB Capital financial group.

"Last week, global equity markets hit a 19-month high and the VIX index, a measure of market volatility, fell to its lowest level since June 2007."

On Monday in foreign exchange deals, the European single currency climbed to $1.3376 from $1.3341 late in New York on Friday.

The yen meanwhile continued to fall after Japan's new leaders last week unveiled a stimulus package worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

The euro hit 120.13 yen on Monday, which was the highest level since May 2011.

Europe's single currency made further gains also after upbeat comments last week by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

But in a reminder that all was not well for the eurozone, official data published on Monday showed industrial output in the 17-nation eurozone fell 0.3 percent in November compared with output in October.

Elsewhere, on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold increased to $1,668.94 an ounce from $1,657.50 on Friday.

On the corporate front, shares in Swatch Group jumped 4.51 percent to 514.5 Swiss francs after the world's leading watchmaker said it would acquire US jeweller and watchmaker Harry Winston for up to $1.0 billion (750 million euros).

In Frankfurt, Continental grew 0.91 percent to 85.83 euros after the German maker of automotive parts and tyres, announced that it had beaten its sales targets in 2012 -- but warned it would not be able to keep up the pace this year.

Sales in 2012 came to 32.7 billion euros ($43.7 billion), a rise of 7.0 percent from the level in 2011, the firm said, publishing initial figures for its last fiscal year.

However, the company cautioned that it would not be able to keep up the pace of expansion during 2013 given a slumping auto market.

In Paris EADS, parent of European planemaker Airbus, was down 0.63 percent to 32.09 euros, despite Citilink, the low-cost branch of Indonesian airline Garuda, ordering 25 Airbus A320neo airliners with a catalogue value of $2.4 billion.

In 2011, Garuda ordered 15 of the A320neo aircraft, the new low-fuel-consumption version of the A320 much used by low-cost operators, due to enter into service in 2015.

Asian stock markets mostly closed higher on Monday, led by a surge on the Shanghai index after the securities regulator raised hopes for increased foreign investment in China's stock market, traders said.

burs-bcp/rfj/wai

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