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European markets close higher on earnings; Pandora surges up 5%

European markets edged higher on Thursday as investors continued to digest political uncertainties and reacted to fresh corporate earnings.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.22 percent higher with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory. Oil and gas stocks dropped on U.S. crude stocks data which led to a fall in oil prices. The new figures showed a fall by 1 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration, though stocks remained close to a record high.

Basic resources moved higher as investors appeared to overcome steel and iron ore oversupply concerns. Rio Tinto reported late Wednesday that it was not changing its full-year iron ore shipment guidance despite lower prices. Its shares were 1.2 percent higher.

Unilever reported fresh numbers and edged higher after announcing first-quarter sales above expectations. Its shares closed up 0.3 percent. Meanwhile, Danish jewelry maker Pandora erased some losses from earlier in the week after reporting it would be updating its structure and backing its 2017 guidance. Shares subsequently jumped more than 5 percent.

British hedge fund Man Group was also higher, up by 4.4 percent, after announcing that funds under management rose 10 percent in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 continued higher on Thursday amid renewed optimism around the first quarter of earnings season.

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Geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the U.S. was looking at new ways to pressure the rogue state. Meanwhile, he also accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" to disturb countries in the Middle East. In Europe, opinion polls show that the race to elect the next French president is too close to call with both leading candidates losing momentum ahead of Sunday's first-round vote.

Elsewhere, broadcaster Sky reported an 11 percent drop in adjusted operating profit in the first nine months of its fiscal year, due to additional costs with the English Premier League and a weaker advertising market. Its shares ended marginally higher.

ABB edged up 0.2 percent on news that its first-quarter net income came in above market expectations. Nestle also said Thursday that its first-quarter organic sales were above consensus. Its shares rose slightly on Thursday.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told bankers Thursday financial regulations devised after the 2008-09 crisis must not be rigid but instead require flexibility to ensure unintended consequences can be managed.

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