EUROPEAN shares inched higher early on Monday, led by commodity companies , on the back of improving manufacturing data from China.
In early trade, the FTSEurofirst 300 climbed 2.51 points, or 0.2pc to 1,121.87. Miners were among those boosted by a survey that showed China's giant manufacturing sector had moved into expansion territory for the first time since October 2011.
"We are in an environment where the big picture risks are still there; the U.S. fiscal cliff, the euro zone and China - on two of those (China and the euro zone) arguably things have been improving," Philip Poole, global head of macro investment strategy at HSBC Global Asset Management, said.
Poole said the U.S. "fiscal cliff" of some $600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts remains a big stumbling block for investors, but he said equities remain good value relative to core government debt and now is a good to be buying them.
"What is going to drag fresh money back into this market? It is the data more than anything ... If we see some stabilisation in European data then that could see some of the money come in," he said.
Investors were bracing for euro zone factory surveys, due later in the day. The region is on course for its worst quarter since early 2009.