The US employment situation appears to have improved in December. The ADP National Employment Report on Thursday showed that the private sector added 215,000 jobs last month after increasing payrolls by 148,000 in November.
Another report on Thursday showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to 372,000 last week but the four-week moving average was little changed at 360,000.
In Germany the number of unemployed rose by 3,000 in December but the unemployment rate held steady at 6.9 percent.
Even Spain had positive data to report on Thursday, with the number of people unemployed falling by 1.2 percent in December.
Meanwhile, China again added to signs that its economy is picking up pace. The National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing reported on Thursday that their non-manufacturing PMI rose to 56.1 in December from 55.6 in November.
However, data from the UK on Thursday showed renewed weakness there. The Markit/CIPS construction PMI fell to 48.7 in December from 49.3 in November while Nationwide reported that house prices fell 0.1 percent in December after being unchanged in November.