The Markit Economics purchasing mangers' index for the eurozone services sector in April topped an initial reading, but the index, at 54.1, remained down from March's 54.2. The composite eurozone index was also better than the initial reading but down for the month.
In the U.K., in a crumb of comfort for the Conservative Party just a day before what look set to be the most indecisive elections in a generation, the Markit index for the services sector came in well ahead of the initial reading at 59.5, up from 58.9 in March, signalling the fastest pace of expansion since August 2014. A reading above 50 points to economic growth.
In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.50% to 6,962.53 by late morning. In Frankfurt, the DAX clambered back 1.11% to 11,453.23, and in Paris, the CAC 40 rose 0.74% to 5,010.96.
But the Athens Composite Index was down 2.53% as fears of a Greek debt default and an exit of the country from the eurozone persisted.
In London, U.K. food retailer J Sainsbury (JSAIY) declined after posting its first loss in a decade because of real estate write-downs and declining same-store sales.
But fashion retailer and wholesaler SuperGroup (SEPGF) was up close to 7% by late morning after posting double-digit same-store retail sales growth in the fourth quarter. Analysts at Peel Hunt called the stock a key pick among non-food retailers because it's growing faster than its peers but trading at a discount to the sector.
Imperial Tobacco (ITYBY) rose more than 2% after posting first-half results that showed 15% in net revenue after stripping out one-time and currency-related effects. The stock had fallen sharply yesterday on a sell recommendation from Nomura International.
Fund manager Legal & General (LGGNY) gained after reporting steep rises in first-quarter cash generation and assets under management.
In Paris, two leading French banks, Société Générale (SCGLY) and Credit Agricole (CRARY), reported first-quarter profit that beat expectations. SocGen rebounded from steep writedowns in Russia and reported "initial signs" of an economic recovery in Europe, and Credit Agricole reported that all business lines were making progress. Shares in SocGen slipped but Credit Agricole reversed initial losses to trade higher by late morning.
Citigroup analysts noted that Russia remains weak for SocGen and remarked on cost pressure at its commercial and investment banking business.
Also in Paris, engineering company Alstom rose after posting a 60% rise in full-year orders to a record €10 billion ($11.2 billion). The company is in the process of handing control of power-equipment operations to General Electric (GE). It is targeting more than 5% organic revenue growth and operating margin improvement in the current year.
In China, mainland stock indices ended the day lower after a volatile session and after posting their biggest loss in three months on Tuesday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.41% at 2,7640.91.
The HSBC Holdings/Markit Economics purchasing managers' index for China's services sector rose to 52.9 in April from 52.3 in March, the fourth consecutive monthly increase, but the composite index fell to a three-month low because of stagnation in the manufacturing sector.
In Sydney Internet provider iinet closed down 2.8% after it opted for a sweetened $1.6 billion ($1.2 billion) takeover proposal from larger rival TPG Telecom over an offer from M2 (MTCZF).