Europe Markets

Europe Closes Higher but Techs Weigh

CNBC and Reuters

European shares closed higher Thursday, with the market taking direction from an opening rise on Wall Street where the hit the 1,500 mark for the first time since December 2007.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed up by 0.27 percent to 1,170.83 points. The euro zone's blue-chip also advanced by 0.17 percent to 2,654.18 points.

London's FTSE 100 Index reached new multi-year highs, boosted by the basic resources sector, which rose after an HSBC flash PMI survey showed China factory growth rose to a two-year high in January.

"Clients are feeling pretty positive on the markets in general at the moment," said a Geneva-based trader.

Despite the optimism, gains in Europe were held back by a hefty drop in Apple's shares after the tech giant reported a worse-than-expected fall in revenue on Wednesday.

European tech stocks and Apple suppliers fell on the news, with German-based Infineon and the U.K.'s Arm Holdings trading lower.

Firms such as Imagination Technologies and Alcatel Lucent were also lower. Logitech released third-quarter earnings on Thursday showing a loss; its shares closed 9.58 percent lower.

Investors also focused on Nokia earnings. The Finnish mobile firm said it had suspended annual dividend payment for the first time in over 20 years; shares closed 5.50 percent lower after initially showing gains.

Airline Easyjet announced revenue was up 9.2 percent in its first-quarter earnings; its shares climbed 5.09 percent.

In other stocks news, Commerzbank shares fell after the German bank confirmed it will cut 4,000 to 6,000 jobs worldwide by 2016. However, shares managed to pare losses and closed 1.47 percent higher.

PMI data, measuring services and manufacturing sentiment in the euro zone, was released earlier in the trading session. French PMI fell to its lowest level since March 2009, with the composite figure for January was 42.7, down from 44.6 in December. But Germany's composite PMI was more promising, rising to 53.6 in January from 50.3 in December.

For the euro zone as a whole the number rose to 48.2 in January from December's 47.2.

Spain's latest quarterly employment numbers showed another increase in the country's jobless rate. The new figure was 26.02 percent compared to the 25.02 percent when the last figures were published in October.

Reuters reported the European Central Bank (ECB) and European Banking Authority (EBA) plan to conduct a joint stress test on Europe's major banks in September, ahead of the ECB taking on a supervisory role of top lenders from 2014.