LONDON: European shares advanced in early deals on Wednesday, recovering from a muted start to the year's trading as retail stocks led the way, while attention was also on the implementation of new financial market rules.
While gains among health care firms, tech and materials supported indexes, trading was expected to be cautious following the holiday season and on the first day new European Union market rules came into force.
Though company news was sparse, British retailer Next saw its shares jump 8.5 per cent to the top of the STOXX after the company upped its profit forecast on beating expectations for Christmas sales.
While Next is the first major listed retailer to give an update on Christmas trading, shares in peer Marks & Spencer also rose more than 2 per cent.
Europe's retail index was the best-performing sector on the day, up 1 per cent, though it had a shaky performance in 2017, ending the year with a loss of 3 per cent.
Shares in semiconductor maker AMS were also buoyant, up 2.9 per cent following strong gains in the previous session for US tech peers.
While falls were limited, outside of the STOXX 600 shares in British builder Carillion tumbled 5.4 per cent after Britain's markets watchdog opened an investigation into the firm.