Europe Markets

Stocks end mixed as oil wavers; miners soar, Credit Suisse tanks


European markets finished mixed on Thursday in what had been a volatile session, with a rally in mining stocks trying to offset concerns surrounding oil, global growth and earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 came off session lows, but finished trade 0.2 percent lower. Sectors closed mixed to lower.

London's FTSE 100 sped ahead following a sharp jump in mining stocks, closing 1.1 percent up. France's CAC closed up just above the flat line, while Germany's DAX slipped into the red, ending some 0.4 percent down.

Commodity stocks higher

The dollar continued to come under pressure during trade as weak U.S. economic data suggested a March interest rate hike from the data-dependent Fed was unlikely. The ISM non-manufacturing index's January reading came in at 53.5, below the expected 55.1 and the lowest reading since December 2013.

The weaker dollar helped support oil prices, however, which have been volatile since the start of the year. Oil prices extended gains before coming under pressure at Thursday's close, as concerns over record-high U.S. inventories and supply dominated. Brent crude came off session highs, to trade around $34.60 a barrel, while U.S. crude also slipped, trading at $32.11.

Several oil companies also reported earnings before the opening bell with the overall sector trading in over 4 percent up. Finnish refiner Neste closed up over 2 percent after it reported expectation-beating fourth-quarter profits.

Norway's Statoil followed its peers in slashing spending plans amid the low oil price and also posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations, sending shares surging to close up 9.1 percent. Shell shares closed up 4.7 percent despite reporting 2015 income that fell 87 percent.

The weaker dollar also provided a boost for metal prices, which triggered a strong performance in basic resource stocks, up over 7 percent as a sector. Anglo American charged ahead, finishing 19.9 percent higher, with Glencore, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton all closing up over 10 percent.

Credit Suisse slumps on earnings

Earnings season is in full swing. Credit Suisse on Thursday posted a pre-tax loss for last year after a challenging fourth quarter in which it took substantial charges and warned it expected markets to remain volatile throughout the remainder of 2016. Shares tanked 10.9 percent.

The Netherlands' largest lender, ING, posted fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, with showed a rise in underlying net results. Patrick Flynn, the chief financial officer of ING, told CNBC that market volatility had not affected the bank too much. Shares closed up 8.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Daimler was off over 3 percent after it said fourth-quarter operating profit rose by 22 percent boosted by growth in China.

Pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca reported a slight uptick in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 but said it expects a "low to mid single-digit percentage decline in core EPS (earnings per share)" in 2016. Shares slipped some 6 percent.

BoE holds fire on rates

On the data front, the euro zone is expected to grow 1.7 percent in 2016 (from 1.6 percent last year) and 1.9 percent in 2017, the European Commission said. The 2016 figure was a downward revision from the 1.8 percent expected in the last forecast in November.

In other news, the Bank of England voted 9-0 to maintain its key U.K. interest rate at 0.5 percent.

- Antonia Matthews contributed to this report

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