Europe's main stock markets rose slightly on Wednesday following recent losses, with rebounds capped by French debt concerns and uncertainty over the outcome of Scotland's looming independence referendum.
The euro steadied against the dollar, which hit a six-year high against the yen. The British pound, battered in recent days on fears that Scotland may yet split from Britain, dropped against its main rivals.
In share trading, Europe's biggest home-improvements chain Kingfisher shot to the top of London's FTSE after announcing the appointment of a new chief executive, while Santander was among the leading fallers in Madrid after the Spanish bank said its chairman had died.
Asian stock markets mostly closer lower on Wednesday following a fall on Wall Street overnight, with shares of Apple's suppliers mixed as investors were left unimpressed with the launch of the US giant's latest iPhones and watch.
In commodities trading, Brent oil prices slumped to a 17-month low, as dealers took account of a global supply glut ahead of the latest US crude inventories report.
Around midday in London, the FTSE 100 index of top companies was up 0.21 percent to 6,843.49 points after falling over Scotland fears earlier in the week.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 edged up 0.05 percent to 9,715.75 points and in Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.09 percent to stand at 4,456.35 compared with Tuesday's close.
France pushed back its target to hit EU deficit rules by two years, potentially putting the eurozone's second-biggest economy on a collision course with Brussels.
Finance Minister Michel Sapin said Paris would not get its ballooning budget deficit down to the EU limit of three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) until 2017, the expected date of the next presidential election in France.
The yield on French 10-year bonds was rose slightly, edging up to 1.377 percent from 1.347 percent late on Tuesday.
- Euro steadier -
The euro was trading at $1.2939 on Wednesday, up slightly compared with $1.2937 late in New York on Tuesday.
The European single currency had struck a 14-month low of $1.2860 at one point on Tuesday, coming under pressure after the European Central Bank last week announced a fresh rate cut and monetary easing measures.
The dollar hit 106.80 yen on Wednesday, which was the highest level since September 2008.
The dollar is winning support after the US Federal Reserve cuts back on its stimulus programme and expectations increase that it will soon start to raise interest rates again.
The pound meanwhile hit a fresh 10-month low of $1.6052 Wednesday and fell to 80.49 pence versus the euro.
- Kingfisher jumps -
Attention fell on Kingfisher and its operations in France on Wednesday. The company's share price jumped 2.67 percent to 315.4 pence after Kingfisher announced that French national Veronique Laury is to become its chief executive officer, replacing Ian Cheshire who is retiring.
The British group announced also a drop in half-year net profits.
"News of a new chief executive dominates," said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers. "The appointment appears to reflect the importance of France."
In France, Kingfisher owns also Brico Depot, while it is in talks to purchase Mr Bricolage as it looks to extend its strong presence in the country. In Britain, Kingfisher runs home-improvements chains B&Q and Screwfix.
Meanwhile in Madrid, Santander dropped 1.39 percent to 7.64 euros after the bank said that its president Emilio Botin had died from a heart attack, with markets expecting his daughter Ana Patricia -- who heads the bank's British operations -- to take the helm.
The launch of a smartwatch by Apple, pushed shares in Swiss group Swatch, the world leader in watches, down 1.52 percent to 492.90 Swiss francs in Zurich.
But the presentation by Apple of several new products gave a boost to French digital security company Gemalto. Its shares rose 2.41 percent to74.50 euros.
On commodity markets, Brent North Sea crude for October sank to $98.80 a barrel -- the lowest point since May 1, 2013. It later stood at $99.08, down eight cents from Tuesday's closing level.
The price of gold fell to $1,253.28 an ounce from $1,255.75 late on Tuesday on the London Bullion Market.