Europe's main stock markets closed higher on Thursday as investors digested a raft of US economic data suggesting a recovery there is gaining traction and after oil prices fell sharply.
At the close of session, Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.92 per cent to 7,144.45 points and the Paris CAC 40 added 0.44 per cent to 3,580.21 points.
In London, the benchmark FTSE 100 index bucked the trend and slipped 0.08 per cent to 5,940.72 points after Fitch lowered Britain's long-term outlook to negative from stable, while confirming its top-level AAA rating.
Elsewhere, Zurich rose by 0.50 per cent, Madrid by 0.42 percent, Brussels by 0.66 percent, Milan by 0.85 percent and Amsterdam by 0.57 percent. Lisbon fell by 0.44 percent.
The European single currency rose to $1.3107 from $1.3030 late in New York on Wednesday. The dollar fell to 83.25 Japanese yen from 83.67 yen on Wednesday.
US stocks also gained after a jobs data release, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.33 percent to 13,238 points.
The broad-market S&P 500 added 0.54 percent to break the 1,400 threshold at 1,401.82 points and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.56 percent to 3,057.66 points.
"The better-than-expected US indicators allowed traders to maintain a certain optimism," Saxo Bank analyst Alexandre Baradez said.
New claims for unemployment benefits dropped to 351,000 in the week ending March 10 from 365,000 the previous week, the US Labor Department reported.
"Steady levels near 350,000 for claims are very reassuring for the stock market right now," Dick Green at Briefing.com said.
Wholesale inflation appeared subdued, according to the producer price index for February and manufacturing activity in New York state picked up for the fourth straight month in March, the Federal Reserve reported.
Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics said the various data "provided a little more evidence that the US economic recovery is strengthening".
On Wall Street shares of California-based gadget-maker Apple briefly broke through the $600 level, a day before the release of its latest iPad tablet, but later traded at $597.00, up 1.26 percent on Wednesday's close.
Apple shares have gained 57 percent in the past three months and 73 percent over the past year.
Trader sentiment was buoyed when crude oil futures dropped Thursday on reports, later denied, that Britain and the United States had agreed to release strategic crude reserves in a bid to cool high prices, analysts said.
Prices in London had dived by as much as four dollars in reaction to the reports but later trimmed losses as a government source strongly denied that an agreement had been struck between London and Washington to boost market supplies.
Elsewhere on Thursday, the International Monetary Fund's board approved a new 28-billion-euro ($36.5 billion) loan for Greece, just as Athens announced a new unemployment record of 20.7 percent.
After keeping its plans secret for weeks until the EU and Athens could complete a massive 107 billion euro private sector debt writeoff, last Friday IMF chief Christine Lagarde announced a larger than expected 28 billion euros proposal.
The IMF had been disappointed by Greece's progress under its previous 30 billion euro loan, part of a huge IMF-EU bailout that failed to get Athens's finances on a sustainable path.
Asian markets mostly fell on Thursday following two days of gains that were rooted in growing optimism over the US economy.