Strong performance from mining sector lends an edge to European stocks

European stocks saw modest gains in Thursday trading, nudged higher by a strong performance from mining sector shares.

Reuters reports that the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index gained 0.2% around midday to tap 1,139.71, not far off the 19-month high struck last week, while the Euro STOXX 50 Index, comprised of blue chip euro zone shares, rose 0.4% despite meager trading during the festive season.

Mining stocks enjoyed the strongest performance amongst all sectors, with the STOXX 600 European basic resources index gaining 1.4% on signs that growth is picking up in China, currently the world's biggest consumer of a broad slew of metals and mineral resources.

Official data released on Thursday indicates that China's annual industrial profit growth rose to 22.8% in November compared to 20.5% in October, as government measures to boost the economy kick in.

Analysts continue to feel that gold mining stocks are an excellent bet, as precious metals remain popular with investors concerned about the state of the global economy and the actions of key central banks.