London - Spanish stocks outperformed flat European bourses on Monday as a rebound in the Spanish economy lifted the Madrid market and propped up European markets after weak Chinese data.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index slipped 0.1 percent to 1,311.08 points in early session trading, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index advanced by 0.1 percent to 3,083.33 points.
Asian stock markets fell overnight after data showed that growth in China's services sector had slowed sharply last month, raising concerns about the pace of recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
A rise in Spain's IBEX stock market helped prop up the broader pan-European equity indexes after data showed that Spain's service sector registered its fastest pace of growth in 6-1/2 years in December.
The data lifted Spanish banks Santander and BBVA by 1.2-1.4 percent, while the Spanish IBEX stock market rose 0.5 percent.
Italy's FTSE MIB equity index - another “peripheral” European market that is slowly recovering from the effects of the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis - also rose 0.6 percent.
“I'm overweight on the periphery, as opposed to France and Germany. There's still some value there,” said Ion-Marc Valahu, fund manager at Swiss investment firm Clairinvest.
Darren Courtney-Cook, head of trading at Central Markets Investment Management, said there may be some short-term pullback on the European stock markets later this month but added traders should use any weakness to buy up stocks.
“There could be a pullback, but you should buy into that pullback,” he said. - Reuters