LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - European shares edged higher on Monday, helped by gains at Scandinavian lenders SEB and Danske Bank, although worries over the Spanish economy and prospects for the second-quarter earnings season acted to cap gains.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed up 0.2 percent at 1,044.28 points, while the euro zone Euro STOXX 50 dipped 0.2 percent to 2,254.23 points.
Volumes were relatively thin, at just under two-thirds of the 90-day average, with investors reluctant to take up big positions ahead of testimony later this week by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that could give clues to the chances for fresh monetary stimulus.
Traders added that investors remained worried by the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis, with Spain’s benchmark IBEX index fallling around 2 percent after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Spain would miss its deficit and debt targets this year and next.
“The Spanish situation is weighing on a few investors’ minds. The market’s not ready to go either way yet. It needs more conviction,” said XBZ Ltd European equity options broker Mike Turner.