Stocks have begun the morning with solid gains, riding on the coattails of Wall Street after stocks on the other side of the Pond clocked in with surprising gains even in the face of stronger-than-expected consumer price gains, the markets' most recent bugbear.
Gains in US equities came despite a January CPI print of 2.1% year-on-year, which was above economists' forecasts for a dip to 2.0%, although some had been expected a larger drop to 1.9%.

“While yesterday's inflation numbers make a Fed rate rise in March more or less a done deal the prospect of additional rate rises later on in the year don't appear to be causing the same consternation in equity markets that they were a week ago, as US markets closed higher for the fourth day in succession, despite initially opening lower in the wake of the release of the data,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Against that backdrop, as of 1004 GMT, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was up by 0.86% or 3.21 points at 377.74, alongside a rise of 0.82% or 101.32 points to 12,444.48 for the German Dax and a gain of 1.42% or 73.17 on the Cac-40 to 5,238.43.

In parallel, the yield on the benchmark 10-year German bund was three basis points higher to 0.79% and euro/dollar up by 0.14% to 1.2474.

On the economic front, according to Eurostat the euro area's seasonally adjusted trade surplus increased from €22.0bn for November to €23.8bn in December (consensus: €22.5bn).

Significantly, albeit as was expected, Spain's INE reported that harmonised CPI in the Mediterranean country fell by 1.5% month-on-month in January, pushing the year-on-year rate to from 1.2% to 0.7%.

Airbus shares were the standout gainer on Thursday, rocketing after the Toulouse-based jet manufacturer predicted 20% earnings growth this year and following recent heavy selling in the stock.