LONDON — European stocks closed marginally higher Tuesday afternoon, amid optimism over coronavirus vaccinations and as post-Brexit trade talks between the U.K. and EU continued to yield little progress.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up by 0.2%, with a majority of sectors and major bourses in positive territory. London's FTSE index entered the black by the end of the session after initially trading lower.
Market attention is heavily-focused on the state of Brexit talks this week. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to head to Brussels this week in a last-ditch attempt to secure a Brexit trade deal.
He will meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after negotiators failed to make significant progress when talk resumed on Monday.
In other news, Britain is rolled out the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday, making it the first Western country to start a general coronavirus vaccination program.
Meanwhile, peer-reviewed results published in the Lancet medical journal Tuesday reiterated that the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford had an average effectiveness of 70%.
U.S. traders are keeping a close watch on negotiations for additional fiscal stimulus while the U.S. coronavirus caseload continues to rise.
Republican and Democratic leaders said Monday that Congress is trying to extend government funding for an additional week to try to strike a deal on new Covid-19 aid. The news came after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a $908 billion stimulus proposal last week.
In individual stock news, Beijer Ref shares climbed over 7% after a private equity group bought a stake in the Swedish wholesaler. At the opposite end of the Stoxx 600, Austrian semiconductor firm AMS fell 15%.
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- CNBC.com staff contributed to this report.