MILAN - European shares rose slightly to near 4-week highs on Monday following gains in Asian markets overnight and helped by strength among financial stocks.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index inched up 0.1 percent by 0837 GMT with banks leading sectoral gainers on relief after last week's deal on new global banking rules and ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday.
The STOXX 600 has recovered part of the losses suffered in November but remains more than 2 percent below the two-year highs hit at the start of last month.
Traders said markets will likely remain quiet before the much awaited Fed meeting, which is widely expected to raise rates, a measure that could support banking stocks.
"There is not much major data scheduled to be released today, which makes range-trading the most likely scenario... Also with the FOMC meeting just around the corner many traders might prefer to remain on the sideline for now," said Markus Huber, trader at City of London Markets.
HSBC was the biggest gainer on Monday, up 1.8 percent, while among other heavyweight banks, UBS rose 0.6 percent and France's BNP Paribas was up 0.2 percent, while Deutsche Bank declined 0.6 percent.
Over the weekend, Deutsche Bank's finance chief told a German paper the bank was able to cope with the stricter capital rules on banks that were agreed last week.
Top gainers on the STOXX were Steinhoff, which rose 23 percent to break three sessions of dramatic losses stemming from its discovery of accounting irregularities, and Italian defence contractor Leonardo, up 2.5 percent following an upbeat note from Goldman Sachs.
Elsewhere, Bayer shares were 0.7 percent higher, brushing off a report that EU antitrust regulators are expected to warn the group in the coming weeks that its planned takeover of U.S. seed maker Monsanto may hurt competition.
AB InBev was up 0.7 percent following a source-based report saying the company is among the brewing groups looking to bid for a stake in Vietnam's largest brewer in a $5 billion sale process.
Gains on the broader market were limited by renewed weakness among tech stocks, the sector which has gained the most in Europe so far this year. Chipmaker AMS, whose shares have risen more than 220 percent so far this year, was the biggest faller on the STOXX 600, down more than 3 percent.
Also weighing were losses among utilities and telecoms, two sectors which tend to underperform when interest rates rise, making their steady dividend flows less attractive.