(Reuters) - European shares were slightly higher on Friday at mid-day amid thin trading as miners tracked rising metal prices, offset by lingering concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis and reservations ahead of U.S. inflation data.
At 1140 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.2 percent at 963.85 points, but still on track to record a weekly loss.
Trading was thin and mainly technically driven with volumes at around 30 percent of the 90-day average by midday, continuing this week's trend.
The overall development over the last three months was more or less a zero-sum game, said Roger Peeters, strategist at Close Brothers Seydler. Most investors may have anticipated the current trading levels, hence markets may develop rather calmly.
Miners rallied along with metal prices, with Rio Tinto up 2.5 percent, Xstrata up 2.5 percent and Antofagasta up 3.5 percent.
Copper prices rebounded, helped by signs of recovery by the U.S. economy. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.6 percent. Kazakhmys was also boosted by news it has finalised a $1.5 billion loan facility.
The FTSE 350 Mining index, meanwhile, is up 1.9 percent. The index remains weak but is still above the medium-term support level at the 2010 lows, said Dominic Hawker, technical analyst at Arbuthnot Securities.
The STOXX Europe 600 Banks index was up 0.8 percent after news that talks on a Greek debt swap deal are making progress.
The sector was little affected by Fitch Ratings' move to downgrade Barclays, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank AG, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp, and Goldman Sachs Group, citing increased challenges in the financial markets.
The move has been expected and already priced into share prices, said Markus Huber, head of German sales trading at ETX Capital.
At the same time, investors are preparing for some action as they face triple witching on Friday, with contracts for stock index futures, stock index options and stock options all expiring on the same day.
Around Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 index was up 0.5 percent, Germany's DAX index up 0.1 percent, and France's CAC 40 flat.
Europe's blue-chip stock index, the Euro STOXX 50 , was down 0.1 percent and is on track to end the week firmly in the red.
Futures volumes have outpaced cash sharply in recent sessions, by as much as 6 to 1, traders said.
The index, down 5 percent so far this week, stayed within a 2,206.62 to 2,244.49 range on Friday. It is stuck below the 50 percent retracement of its sharp rally from late November to early December, which represents a major resistance level.
It needs to be seen if markets will lay the ground work for a Christmas or year-end rally pushing aside concerns that at least for the first half of 2012 not much of an improvement seems to be in sight, ETX's Huber said.