European shares stable
European shares steadied on Wednesday after rising in the previous two sessions, with basic resources companies underpinning the broader market following a rise in metals prices.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was trading flat in percentage terms. However, Britain's commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index climbed 0.7 percent.
The European basic resources index rose 1.4 percent to its highest level since mid-2015 after base and precious metals prices advanced. Shares in BHP Billiton, Fresnillo, Randgold Resources and Rio Tinto were 1.1 to 2.9 percent higher.
The European mining sector has surged more than 12 percent this month alone, taking total gains for this year to 60 percent, on growing expectations that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pledge to invest heavily in infrastructure projects would boost demand for raw materials.
However, Italian banks were on the back foot, with the sector index down 2.2 percent on lingering concerns that the outcome of a referendum vote on constitutional reforms on Dec. 4 could topple Matteo Renzi's reformist government.
The European banking index was down 0.6 percent, with shares in Banco Popolare, B P Milano and Unicredit falling 2.8 to 5.0 percent. Investors' focus will be on Britain's autumn budget update, due at 1230 GMT.
Asian stocks advanced for a third day as raw-material producers surged and an extended equities rally in U.S. markets boosted optimism about company profits. The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index rose 0.7 percent in Hong Kong. A gauge of materials shares jumped as industrial metals traded near the highest levels in more than a year on bets of a recovery in global demand. BHP Billiton Ltd. led Australian stocks to the highest level since August.
The U.S. equities rally continued with the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 19,000 for the first time Tuesday. Tokyo markets were shut Wednesday for a holiday.