(MENAFN - AFP) Europe's main stock markets advanced on Thursday as upbeat eurozone and Chinese economic data eclipsed ongoing uncertainty over the future of the US Federal Reserve's stimulus programme.
However, Asian equities mostly fell and India's rupee sank to another record low, as minutes from the Fed's July meeting failed to dispel fears of an end to its quantitative easing (QE) stimulus.
In late morning deals, London's FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip companies rose 0.84 percent to 6,444.31 points.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 advanced 1.08 percent to 8,374.79 points and the CAC 40 in Paris grew 0.99 percent to 4,054.83 compared with Wednesday's closing levels.
In foreign exchange activity, the euro eased to 1.3351 from 1.3357 late in New York on Wednesday. The dollar gained to 98.58 yen from 97.71 yen.
Sterling fell against the euro to 85.63 pence for a euro, and to 1.5583 after reaching a two-month high point of 1.5701 during trading on Wednesday.
The Turkish lira and Russian ruble fell.
European investors welcomed news that eurozone business activity picked up sharply in August, hitting a 26-month high point as the economy climbed out of a record recession.
The Composite Purchasing Managers' Index compiled by Markit Economics jumped to 51.7 points for August from 50.5 in July, pushing further beyond the 50-points boom-or-bust line.
"The eurozone manufacturing PMIs are giving markets a real boost this morning," said Alpari trader Craig Erlam.
Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newsires had expected an August reading of 51 points after the Composite PMI moved into positive territory in July for the first time in 18 months.
Markit said its separate PMI for the services sector -- which accounts for the bulk of economic activity -- rose to 51 in August for a 24-month high. The manufacturing sector PMI hit a 26-month peak at 51.3 points.
"We saw a significant improvement in the data in the second quarter, which resulted in some much improved GDP figures, and this appears to have carried over into the third as well," added Erlam.
"It's still early but this could suggest that the second quarter growth was no one-off and we could actually be starting to see confidence return to the euro area. This is essential if the area is going to avoid falling straight back into recession."
Recent data showed that the 17-nation eurozone grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter compared with the first, breaking a record 18-month recession.
Sentiment was also lifted as HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed growth in Chinese manufacturing for the first time in four years this month.
HSBC said its PMI came in at 50.1 in August, compared with a final reading of 47.7 in July.
"Better than expected manufacturing data out of China ... called into question a lot of negativity around Chinese growth forecasts we've seen over the past weeks," noted CMC Markets analyst Matt Basi.
However, India's rupee currency dived to 65.56 against the dollar at one point as worries about the Fed cash were compounded by growing fears about the state of the Indian economy. It retraced slightly to 64.96 later.
Wall Street finished a choppy day lower on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed's last policy meeting gave no more clarity on its stimulus plans.
New York's Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.70 percent to 14,897.55 points.
Minutes of the July 30-31 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee showed the Fed continued to debate the timing of tapering or pulling back its 85 billion per month in bond-buying purchases.
"The taper is on the agenda as most of the members are comfortable with it, but Fed's enigmatic remarks failed to give any clues the markets were looking for, which in turn caused a degree of confusion and turmoil in the markets," noted Gekko Markets trader Anita Paluch.
In Asian equity markets, Jakarta was down 1.54 percent, Kuala Lumpur lost 1.57 percent and Bangkok shed 1.07 percent, but Mumbai was up 1.50 percent as dealers picked up bargains after recent losses.
Tokyo shed 0.44 percent, Seoul fell 0.98 percent and Shanghai lost 0.28 percent, while Hong Kong finished with a gain of 0.36 percent.
On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to 1,370.70 an ounce from 1,363 on Wednesday.