European shares were set to edge up on Wednesday, tracking gains in Tokyo, and on optimism for European companies' health as the latest raft of results is released.
European shares edged to a fresh 29-month closing high on Tuesday, as Barclays led the banking sector up on forecast-beating profit, though gains for key indexes were limited by miners falling after a strong run.
Barclayssharesgained 5.8 percent in London trade.
On Tuesday, Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext announced they had reached an agreement to merge.
The new company will have a single tier board, with 10 seats out of 17 going to Deutsche Boerse but with NYSE Euronext taking the all-important chief executive post.
Stocks to watch on Wednesday include Sanofi-Aventis and Genzyme.
The companies have reached an agreement in principle under which Sanofi will acquire Genzyme for $74 a share in cash plus a right to future payments based on the performance of Genzyme's experimental multiple sclerosis drug, a source with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters late on Tuesday.
The deal is expected to be announced by Wednesday morning, the source said.
On the macroeconomic front, all eyes will be on the Bank of England's inflation report.
The report will be watched closely in light of figures published on Tuesday which showed that UK inflation surged to 4 percent in January, double the Bank of England's target.
Also on the agenda are UK consumer confidence and unemployment figures, both for January.
The 2011 Mobile World Congress also continues in Barcelona on Wednesday as industry leaders discuss the latest trends in mobile communication.