European shares finished the day up 3.45 percent, at their highest in more a month.
They were following Wall Street’s example. It was boosted by better-than-expected US housing data – sales of previously owned homes there rose at their fastest pace in nearly six years in February as bargain hunters snapped up foreclosures.
That came on top of optimism about a US Treasury plan to cleanse banks of toxic assets.
In Europe banks were the biggest gainers. BNP Paribas, Banco Santander, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and UniCredit were up between by between 4.5 and 15 percent.
The stronger stock markets caused oil prices to jump.