EU stocks advance as U.S. stimulus hopes and China data boost sentiment

European stocks made tentative gains Thursday as hopes of substantial fiscal stimulus from the incoming U.S. administration and positive data out of China boosted sentiment.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 inched 0.3% higher by early afternoon trade, with autos climbing 2.1% to lead gains while telecoms and utilities slid 0.6%.

European markets started the trading day on a cautious note, as investors monitor the ongoing battle with a rise in coronavirus cases. Vaccination rollouts across the Continent have raised hopes that an end to the pandemic is on its way, however.