European stock markets were firmer on Friday as investors waited in hope that EU leaders will come up with a concrete solution to the eurozone debt crisis to end months of agony and uncertainty.
Ahead of Sunday's key summit in Brussels, it was announced that a second meeting would be held on Wednesday, lowering expectations for a lasting solution to be unveiled this weekend.
Dealers said the divisions -- basically between France and Germany -- over how to proceed were largely out in the open now and the summits Sunday and Wednesday would be judged on how far the two EU giants compromise for the good of all.
In mid-afternoon trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 1.33 percent, Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 2.32 percent and in Paris the CAC 40 rose 1.95 percent.
The European single currency bounced to $1.3805 from $1.3772 in New York late Thursday. The dollar eased to 76.43 yen from 76.78 yen.
In New York, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.54 percent in opening trade, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up 1.22 percent.
"It seems that the meeting on Sunday of euro leaders is now going to be used to assess the rescue package, some of which has already been trailed," said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.
"In an effort to buy some more time, however, it appears that another meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, will be the one from which the decision is announced.
"Ahead of the Wednesday meet, the market will continue to attempt to double guess the outcome as details trickle through. Sentiment is therefore likely to remain fragile," he added.
European finance ministers were meeting Friday to try to nail down debt funding for bailed-out Greece, a restructuring of Greek debt and help for the banks who will inevitably lose out as a result.
If that much can be settled, then leaders will have to tackle the absolutely crunch issue of the eurozone's debt rescue mechanism and the bloc's economic governance, with the latter intended to reduce the need for the former.
The talks follow a video conference overnight between US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the key eurozone duo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
As deep differences between Paris and Berlin dampen hopes of a quick fix to Europe's debt crisis, the White House said Merkel and Sarkozy "fully understand the urgency of the issues in the eurozone," and are "working diligently" towards a "politically sustainable" solution.
France and Germany have been unable to reach agreement on reinforcing the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) despite their leaders announcing last week that they had a plan in place.
"Given how much uncertainty is in the markets at the moment, traders are likely to be on the sidelines," said Capital Spreads trader Jonathan Sudaria.
"Whilst markets still give policy makers the benefit of the doubt that they actually can do something to prevent a ... collapse in confidence, markets are complacent to tread sideways without any concrete action, but that benefit is not a permanent fixture," he added.
Asian markets were mixed in nervous trade Friday amid uncertainty over eurozone progress. Sydney and Tokyo stock markets ended flat Friday, Shangai shed 0.60 percent and Hong Kong rose 0.24 percent.