LONDON (TheDeal) -- European stocks started the morning strongly following rises in China and Hong Kong, despite continued worries over a possible Greek exit from the euro. The posturing ahead of the British general election next month seems to have left the markets cold. A poorer-than-expected February result for U.K. manufacturing and a series of poll results suggesting that the opposition Labour Party is ahead of the Conservatives both played against the governing right-of-center coalition. But investors maintained their composure.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.28% to 7,035.23, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was up 0.29% to 5,224.22. Frankfurt's DAX was up 1.1% to 12,300 and in Madrid, the IBEX 35 was up 0.34% to 11,738.

In London, pharmaceuticals groupShire (SHPG) - Get Shire PLC Sponsored ADR Report is the top performer on the FTSE 100 this morning, up 4.8% to 5,680 pence after its dry eye disease drug Lifitegrast was granted priority review status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which could speed up its arrival on the market.

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Shares in wine retailer Majestic Wine fell 3.54% to 306.5 pence after it announced a £70 million ($102 million) acquisition of fast-growing online vintner Naked Wines and the appointment of a new chief executive, but axed its dividend until 2018.

In Paris, Vivendi (VIVHY) continued its two-week climb, after its largest shareholder, Vincent Bolloré's Groupe Bolloré (BOIVF) , raised its stake in the media conglomerate from 12% to 14.52% with an $850 million share purchase. Bolloré gets extra firepower for his stake, as activist investor P. Schoenfeld Asset Management recently agreed to drop demands to exempt Vivendi from a French law giving double votes to long-term shareholders. Vivendi was up 0.65% to €24.04.

In Spain, oil company Repsol (REPYY) fell 0.4% to €18.06 after the head of banking group La Caixa told the Financial Times in an interview he would consider selling a 12% stake in the company. La Caixa chairman Isidro Fainé also hinted he might float the holding company for the group's other industrial investments -- which include multibillion dollar holdings in some of the country's largest businesses, such as Gas Natural SDG and Abertis Infraestructuras.

In Asia, Hong Kong has been on a week-long run as investors take profits in Shanghai and switch to China stocks in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng finished the day up 1.22% to 27,272.39, while in China, where analysts still believe there is room for further economic stimulus from the government, the Shanghai Composite closed up 1.94% to 4,034.31.

In Sydney, Australia, despite the travails of the mining industry there, the ASX 200 closed up 0.61% to 5,968.37. However, in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 finished the day down 0.15% to 19,907.63.