In Frankfurt, the DAX advanced 0.86% to 9,290.22, while in France the CAC 40 climbed 0.69% to 4,208.59. In London, the FTSE 100 rose 0.31% to 6,631.38.
Merck was up 2.41% in Frankfurt after the Darmstadt-based chemical and pharmaceutical maker raised its full-year sales forecast. It's now counting on sales of 11 billion euros ($13.7 billion) to 11.2 billion euros, compared to a previous forecast of 10.9 billion euros to 11.1 billion euros.
In Paris, Alstom rose 2.86% as investors welcomed the company's plans to return 3.5 billion euros to 4 billion euros in cash through a share buyback.
On Dec. 19, Alstom shareholders are due vote on the sale of energy assets to General Electric (GE) . Alstom's board is proposing that the company keep two-thirds of the 12.35 billion euros to be received from GE to boost its balance sheet and trim debt. Once shareholders give the green light, the deal will still have to be approved by regulators in several jurisdictions, Alstom said.
In London, software engineering firm Aveva Group (AVEVF) gained 1.98% to 1,5430 pence on a ratings upgrade from analysts at Barclays.
Several financial stocks were also up across the continent.