European markets

European markets edged up in the early minutes of trade as Japanese stimulus measures and Chinese outlook added to global economic optimism.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.1 percent to 1,165.25. UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.1 percent while Italy's FTSE MIB added 0.5 percent. Spain's IBEX was up 0.3 percent. Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 rose 0.2 percent each.

The single currency remained little changed against the dollar, trading at about $1.32.

Most Asian markets had ended lower earlier, but Japanese stocks picked up to push the benchmark Nikkei index to a 23-month high as the Yen slipped further against the dollar.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended 0.29 percent lower to 4,709.48 while South Korea's KOSPI was down 0.50 percent to 1,996.67. Japan's Nikkei added 1.4 percent to close at 10,801.57.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.78 percent to 2243.00. Hong Kong's Hang Seng traded 0.44 percent lower to 23251.10 towards close.

Japanese market gains on the back of fresh government stimulus plans worth 10.3 trillion yen ($116bn; £72bn) were the highlight of the day in Asia. The newly elected administration has said that the plan will include infrastructural spending and investment boosting measures, the effects of which are expected to be visible from April this year. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also indicated that further action to aid growth could follow.

The yen remained weak against the dollar, extending its low run that started around November, has continued through the December elections and the pro-stimulus Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) return to power. The Japanese currency has slipped around 12 percent in over two months and looks well on track to stay down as the government promises further action.

Official Chinese consumer price figures released earlier in the day showed that the country's inflation rose 2.5 percent in December, more than market expectations. The increased rates dented hopes of further monetary easing measures from the government, especially after the strong trade figures released yesterday. Chinese markets reversed the previous day's gains, dampening sentiments across the region.

European markets had ended mixed in the previous day after the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BoE) retained benchmark interest rates at 0.75 and 0.5 percent without much indication of future measures. The ECB decision had pushed the Euro up around 1.6 percent.

 French labour reform negotiations between the president Francois Hollande and unions that started yesterday are expected to remain in focus in the day. Reuters reported that French employers have offered some concessions in the discussions that include some broad changes to employment laws. The French government is struggling with an 11.8 percent unemployment rate and concerns that the labour market remains uncompetitive.

London traders are awaiting UK November industrial and manufacturing production figures set for release in the day.  In October the industrial output had seen a surprise 0.8 percent contraction while manufacturing sector dropped 1.3 percent, but analysts expect both the figures to have improved in the following month.