European stocks, euro rise on manufacturing data

European stocks and the euro rose on Monday in the wake of positive Chinese and eurozone manufacturing data, as EU finance ministers prepared for yet more talks on the debt crisis.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed 0.18 percent to 5,877.62 points in morning deals, as Britain awaits its government's budget update on Wednesday alongside new growth forecasts.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.37 percent to 7,432.85 points and the Paris CAC 40 won 0.44 percent to 3,572.95.

"European equities are starting off the new trading week on a slightly firmer footing with positive news out of China," said ETX Capital trader Markus Huber.

"Overall sentiment remains positive with markets still feeding off the fact that last week European finance ministers managed to hammer out a deal where Greece is concerned, removing much uncertainty which had plagued the markets for several weeks."

The European single currency climbed to $1.3034 from $1.2986 late in New York on Friday.

Gold prices dropped to $1,718.53 an ounce on the London Bullion Market, from $1,726 on Friday.

European finance ministers regroup in Brussels on Monday for two-day talks focused as much on EU-wide problems installing cross-border banking supervision as on eurozone bailouts.

After a string of emergency Eurogroup gatherings that finally resulted in a deal last week to get Greece's bailout aid back flowing after months in limbo, Monday sees a return to routine among the 17 states that share the currency, from 1600 GMT.

On Thursday meanwhile, the European Central Bank and Bank of England announce their final monetary policy decisions of the year.

Asian stock markets closed mixed on Monday after data showing Chinese manufacturing activity had picked up pace in November.

Beijing said on Saturday that factory activity grew for the second month in a row in November, the latest figures showing the world's number two economy is emerging from its recent slowdown.

The country's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) reached 50.6, up from 50.2 in October and 49.8 in September and the highest since hitting 53.3 in April. Anything above 50 indicates expansion.

In a separate survey, HSBC said its PMI hit a 13-month high of 50.5 in November from 49.5 in October. The bank's PMI had been in negative territory for 12 months.

Chinese manufacturing has been hit by weaker demand in Europe and the United States, with economic growth hitting a more than three-year low of 7.4 percent in the July-September quarter.

Separate data showed the eurozone manufacturing sector reporting signs of a slight improvement in November but overall it remained stuck deep in the doldrums for a 16th month running.

The PMI compiled by the Markit research firm put the eurozone manufacturing sector on 46.2 points, unchanged from its initial estimate but up from 45.4 points for October.

In France, shares in steel group ArcelorMittal were showing a rise of 1.33 percent to 11.84 euros.

But analysts said this was more a reflection of the tone on the overall stock market than a reaction of relief to a deal late on Friday between the group and the French government which averted nationalisation of its activities at Florange, north eastern France.

Markets were meanwhile worried over the lack of progress US lawmakers are making in agreeing a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts due to come into effect on January 1 and which could tip the economy into recession.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner told the Fox News Sunday TV show that talks were going "nowhere".

He said he was "flabbergasted" when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's point man for the talks, presented the White House's proposal, which included huge tax increases for the rich.

"I looked (at) him and said, 'You can't be serious,'" Boehner recounted, saying three of the seven weeks available had "been wasted with this nonsense".

"Right now, I would say -- we're nowhere, period. We're nowhere" towards reaching a compromise.

burs-bcp/hd

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