European markets closed sharply higher Tuesday on the back of stimulus measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve the day before, and as the number of new coronavirus cases in Italy slowed for a second day.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up by 7.5% provisionally, with the insurance sector surging 14.2% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses ended in positive territory.
Global stock markets are being boosted by the Fed's pledge Monday that it will run an open-ended asset purchase program amid the global coronavirus outbreak. The pledge is a new chapter in the Fed's "money printing" as it commits to keep expanding its balance sheet as necessary, rather than a commitment to a set amount.
On Wall Street, stocks rebounded from sharp losses in the previous session, as investors grew hopeful that U.S. lawmakers would be able to reach a deal on economic stimulus.
Sentiment may also have been lifted by news that Italy, the European epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, experienced a smaller daily increase in the number of new confirmed cases for a second consecutive day on Monday.
There are now over 390,000 confirmed cases of the virus globally, and it has caused over 17,000 deaths.
In Europe Tuesday, the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers will meet via video conference to discuss the region's response to the coronavirus. The meeting is due at 1830 CET.
On the data front, euro zone flash PMI (purchasing managers' index) readings painted a harrowing picture for the bloc's economic health on Tuesday. The composite PMI nosedived to 31.4 in March from 51.6 in February, leaving the index at its lowest on record. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
In terms of individual stocks, Cineworld shares jumped 29% to lead the Stoxx 600, while Carnival, Daimler and Daimler also added more than 20% in a bumper day of trading which saw volatile shares recoup some losses.