US economic data on Thursday continued to come out positive.
Pending home sales jumped 7.3 percent in November to the highest level since April 2010.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose but the four-week moving average fell to a 3½ year low.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer slipped only slightly to 62.5 in December from 62.6 in November.
As usual, however, the news from Europe was not as good.
Lending to the euro zone's private sector fell 0.1 percent in November to its lowest rate in over a year. Annual M3 growth rate slowed to 2.0 percent in November from 2.6 percent in October.
In Italy, Istat's manufacturing sentiment index fell to 92.5 in December, the lowest in two years, from 94.0 in November.
Investors are not showing much more confidence in Italy. The government managed to sell 7 billion euros of debt on Thursday at lower yields than at the previous auction but the yield on its 10-year security remained relatively high at 6.98 percent.
Still, Italy's government did better than Hungary's. The latter managed to raise less than half the amount it had planned at its debt auction.