Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Strong China Import Demand Boosts Europe Stocks

LONDON (MarketWatch) - European stock markets extended gains into a third straight day on Wednesday, boosted by data showing Chinese demand for imports rose in March.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index XX:SXXP +0.89% rose 0.5% to 289.63, adding to a 0.2% gain from Tuesday.

Shares of low-cost airline EasyJet PLC UK:EZJ +3.82% gained 4.7%, after Citigroup lifted the firm to buy from neutral, saying free-cash flow generation bodes well for dividend growth and possible more special dividends.

In the same vein, shares of Michelin FR:ML -0.37% lost 1%, as Credit Suisse cut the French tire maker to neutral from outperform.

For the broader European stock markets, investors trained their attention on China were fresh data revealed a trade deficit in March. Imports surged 14.1% from a year earlier, beating estimates of 6.1% growth and underlining that domestic demand in the world's second largest economy is improving. Exports rose 10%, below expectations of a 12% rise.

Resource firms climbed after the data, as China is major user of natural resources. Shares of heavyweight mining firm Rio Tinto PLC UK:RIO +1.28% RIO +5.72% AU:RIO +2.73% gained 1.9% in London, while oil group Total SA FR:FP +1.16% TOT +1.48% rose 0.4% in Paris.

After the European market close attention will turn to the U.S., where the Federal Reserve releases minutes from its latest policy-setting meeting.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street.

Among country-specific indexes in Europe, Germany's DAX 30 index DX:DAX +1.17% added 0.7% to 7,693.75, while France's CAC 40 index FR:PX1 +1.09% gained 0.8% to 3,699.53.

The U.K,'s FTSE 100 index UK:UKX +0.58% traded 0.6% higher at 6,354.28. For more information click here