Europe Markets

Europe shares close higher; Greece talks in focus

Europe shares close higher; Greece in focus

European equities closed higher on Thursday, as a key meeting of euro zone finance ministers started in Luxembourg, where Greece could be presented with a "take-it-or-leave-it" reforms-for-rescue plan.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed at 0.1 to 0.2 percent higher as market attention in Europe was focused on a Eurogroup meeting and whether the finance ministers could a solution to reforms deadlock with Greece.

London's FTSE 100 index closed around 0.4 percent higher, with the French CAC closing around 0.3 percent higher. Germany's benchmark DAX index closed up around 1.1 percent, higher than other European bourses.

Read MoreBarring miracle, no Greece deal expected tonight

Greece can't pay

On Wednesday, the official in charge of the Greek negotiating team, Euclid Tsakalotos, confirmed to Reuters that to cover a 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) debt payment due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 30 without a reform deal that could unlock a final tranche of bailout aid worth 7.2 billion euros.

Putting more pressure on Greece, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said the European Central Bank (ECB) will not be able to provide financial help for Greece if political negotiations break down, according to an advance copy of an interview he gave Italian newspaper La Stampa, to be published on Thursday.

Greek stocks closed around 0.4 percent higher, despite slipping around 2.7 percent in earlier trade, which pushed them to a near-three-year low. Year to date, the Athens' ATG index has fallen 17.3 percent.

Mining stocks rallied to the top of benchmarks during Thursday trade, with the likes of Anglo American, Glencore and Fresnillo all up around 3 percent, before all paring gains by the close. Anglo American closed near the top around 2.6 percent higher.

U.S. stocks advanced on Thursday as investors eyed economic data and awaited developments on the Greece debt talks.

Sterling rallies

On the data front, U.K. retail sales volumes rose 0.2 percent in May, broadly in line with economist expectations, bringing growth to 4.6 percent year-on-year according to the Office for National Statistics.

Sterling hit a seven-month high of $1.5930 against the dollar following the data's release. At the close, it stood around $1.5883.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the St. Petersberg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) opened Thursday with global business leaders in attendance. The forum comes at a difficult time for Russia as it is still under international sanctions due to its annexation of Crimea last year and subsequent role in the pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine, although it denies involvement. data front

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