Global markets shifted higher on Thursday amid hopes that Russia was angling for a peaceful solution to the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
Calls for peace talks from Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday marked a softening in Russia's approach towards Ukraine. He also called for a controversial vote on independence to be postponed and said Russian troops were being withdrawn from Ukraine's border.
"This move is widely being seen as risk-positive in markets as it shows Russia attempting to de-escalate the crisis. There are now growing hopes that Russia continues down this path and that this latest move isn't just a one-off," Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist at ETX Capital, said in a morning note.
Russia's apparent U-turn was welcomed by markets, which have taken a battering over recent days on concerns of a move towards all-out war in Ukraine.
European stock markets opened higher on Thursday, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 index trading up 0.47 percent by mid-morning. Italy's FTSE MIB and Spain's IBEX 35 were among the strongest performers, trading higher by 1.15 percent and 0.82 percent respectively.