European Shares Closes Higher, FTSE at 5-Year Peak

European shares extended gains to close higher on Wednesday, bolstered by a strong open on Wall Street and by Britain's FTSE 100 getting a technical push up after breaking above its 2013 highs.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,165.43 points.

Britain's FTSE 100 Index closed unofficially up 0.3 percent, testing levels not seen since early 2008 and breaking above the previous peak of 6,354.46 points set at the end of January.


Shares were boosted by Euro zone industrial production data showed a stronger-than-expected 0.7 percent month-on-month rise in December, reinforcing hopes that economic activity turned the corner late last year.

"The rebound is very much in line with improvement in euro zone business surveys, sentiment and manufacturing activity," Ishaq Siddiqi said in a note. "This improvement however is not strong enough to indicate immediate growth with the euro zone likely to muddle through for the most part of this year."

In Switzerland, the government said it was taking steps to try to stop a housing market boom and announced banks need to hold more capital. Shares in Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS both fell on the news.

In the U.K., the Bank of England released its inflation report on Wednesday indicating that inflation in the country is set to remain higher for longer.

Italy's treasury held a bond auction on Wednesday managing to sell its first 30-year bond in nearly two years. Demand was 1.97 times the offer and comes ahead of elections in the country this month.