Europe Markets

Europe ekes out gains to close higher after PMIs

Europe ekes out gains to close higher after PMIs

European equities finished largely higher on Thursday, as investors digested fresh data from the euro zone.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index closed around 0.4 percent higher, after starting the day lower and trading in a tight range. It gained in afternoon trade after flash manufacturing and services PMI data for the euro zone.

The German DAX index closed provisionally 0.2 percent higher, as did French stocks, while London's FTSE finished unofficially 0.1 percent higher.

The May composite PMI figures figures from Markit showed the euro zone's economy continued to lose momentum in May. The index fell to 53.4 from 53.9 in April, below analyst expectations.

However, the data also showed that staffing levels increased at their fastest rate in four years. The euro rose on the news and stock markets climbed slightly.

Later on Thursday, the European Central Bank released the minutes of its latest policy meeting, in which members said that a "firm implementation" of quantitative easing would best serve the economic recovery.

Booker Group surges

Booker Group shares closed nearly 12 percent higher, with news that the U.K.'s largest food wholesale operator is to buy retailers Budgens and Londis.

U.S. stocks traded in a narrow range on Thursday as investors awaited existing home sales, amid other data reports.

Investors are now looking ahead to a speech on Friday by the U.S. Federal Reserve's chair, Janet Yellen, for more hints on when the central bank might hike interest rates.

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