European stock markets closed higher this evening, with sentiment more positive as investors looked past recent weak US economic data and looked forward to a recovery later this year. The Paris CAC added 44 points (0.89%) to end at 4,945 and the Frankfurt DAX up 66 points (0.8%) to 6,821.

Meanwhile, the UK's top share index crossed the psychologically key 6,000-mark to hit its highest closing level in five weeks this evening, helped by bid talk around British Energy and an upbeat Goldman Sachs note on miners. The London FTSE gained 68 points to close at 6,015, up over 1%.

Boosted by a big jump in FBD shares, Dublin's ISEQ index closed 37 points higher at 6,389 this evening. Shares in the insurance group were up 15.5% after it confirmed a report that it had received a preliminary takeover approach from Dutch insurer Eureko. The banks were mixed with Irish Life and Permanent up 25 to €12.80 and Anglo Irish Bank down 22 to €8.37.

US stocks also continued to advance this afternoon amid a Yahoo-Microsoft takeover battle and a report that ailing  mortgage lender Washington Mutual may receive a $5 billion capital injection. The Dow Jones was up 92 points (0.7%) to stand at 12,701 while the Nasdaq added 12 (0.5%) to trade at 2,383.

Earlier this morning, Japanese share prices had surged ahead, recovering from early losses. The Nikkei 225 index climbed 1.18% to end at 13,450.