European stock markets climbed Tuesday after better-than-expected economic growth data for Germany and France, but gains were capped by news that the overall eurozone had contracted, traders said.
The benchmark FTSE 100 index of leading companies added 0.52 percent to 5,862.08 points around midday in London.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 won 0.81 percent to 6,965.82 points and in Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.50 percent to 3,443.65. Madrid increased by 0.82 percent and Milan was up 0.52 percent in value.
In foreign exchange deals, the European single currency firmed to $1.2357 from $1.2333 late on Monday in New York.
"At least the markets were offered some respite as the French and German second quarter GDP data came out better than expected, showing that the core EU countries are not falling into recession, which was the widely accepted consensus view," said Gekko Global Markets trader Anita Paluch.
The German economy, Europe's biggest, beat analysts' expectations to grow by 0.3 percent in the second quarter, buoyed by rising exports and robust domestic demand, official data showed on Tuesday.
Analysts had been forecasting gross domestic product (GDP) expansion of just 0.2 percent for the period from April to June.
The French economy meanwhile registered zero growth in the second quarter, beating expectations it would begin a slide into recession amid the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.
A recession is defined by economists as two consecutive quarters of contracting activity.
At the same time, Eurostat estimated Tuesday that economic growth fell by 0.2 percent in the eurozone and in the 27-member European Union in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year.
In the first quarter, GDP growth stood at zero in both the EU and the group of 17 EU members that use the euro currency.
The figures reflect the crippling debt crisis that has engulfed the eurozone, forcing EU-IMF bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal and aid for the Spanish banking sector, while battering market confidence.
"Following on from the better than expected French, German and Dutch GDP data, the as-expected eurozone number highlights the weakness in other parts of the region, most specifically the weakness in Italy and Spain and the periphery," said Rabobank analyst Jane Foley.
"The eurozone GDP data is therefore not much to celebrate since the recessionary conditions in Italy, Spain and non core countries highlight the difficulties in seeing through structural reform and pacifying bond investors and serves as a reminder that the debt crisis has further to run."
In company earnings news Tuesday, RWE shares fell 0.34 percent to 39.23 euros in Frankfurt despite Germany's second biggest power supplier revealing a return to profit in the second quarter.
RWE said it booked net profit of 273 million euros ($337 million) in the period from April to June, compared with a loss of 229 million euros a year earlier.
Asian stock markets meanwhile closed higher Tuesday in quiet trade following a muted lead from Wall Street amid the prospect of fresh stimulus moves by global central banks.
"Expectations for stimulus action by the European Central Bank will remain firmly supported as the outlook on the whole remains poor," noted ETX Capital trader Ishaq Siddiqi.
Tokyo stocks gained 0.50 percent and Seoul added 1.27 percent, while Sydney was up 0.21 percent. Hong Kong rallied 1.05 percent and Shanghai ended 0.30-percent higher.
Markets were awaiting the release later Tuesday of US retail sales data, a major contributor to the world's biggest economy.
Wall Street was unable to provide any inspiration on Monday. The Dow fell 0.29 percent, the S&P 500 eased 0.13 percent and the Nasdaq was flat.