The euro started firmer and stocks gained as investors focused on the flood of money from major central banks which was seen supporting global economic growth and on hopes Greece would ultimately take the steps needed to secure its second bailout.

Slightly better than expected French and German data on fourth quarter economic output added to the positive sentiment ahead of the first look at the performance of the euro zone economy for the same period, which is expected to show a contraction.

The reality is that people are looking for good news as confirmation of things, the better tone, since the beginning of the year, said Guy Stear, head of research with Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

Comments by China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan that the country would keep investing in debt issued by euro-zone governments, also supported sentiment although he stopped short of any firm commitments.

The FTSEurofirst index of top European companies opened up 0.3 percent at 1,073.32 points, while after gains in Asia, the MSCI world equity index was up 0.6 percent.

The euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.3165 moving away from Tuesday's low around $1.3080 but off an intraday high of $1.3174 hit in Asian trade.

(Additional reporting by Chikako Mogi)