Europe Markets

Europe ends mostly mixed despite oil gains; UK earnings in focus

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European markets finished mostly mixed on Thursday, as investors digested the latest slew of earnings amid a rise in oil prices while keeping a watchful eye on Friday's crucial U.S. jobs numbers.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fluctuated throughout the choppy session, closing 0.3 percent up provisionally. Sectors, however, ended mostly higher.

London's FTSE 100 finished 0.1 percent up following a raft of U.K. earnings. Meanwhile, Germany's DAX closed up 0.2 percent and France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent. In peripheral bourses, the Athens stock exchange closed almost 2 percent up, buoyed by a rally in its banking sector.

Oil prices jumped over 3.5 percent in afternoon trade on Thursday before paring slight gains, as a huge wildfire in Canada disrupted its oil sands production, while escalating tensions in Libya threatened the North African nation's output, Reuters reported. Brent was trading at $45.77 per barrel, while U.S. WTI hovered around $45.07 at Europe's close.

Stocks in the oil and gas sector posted strong gains on the back of this, with Repsol finishing trade up 4.7 percent despite reporting a 43 percent fall in net income for the first quarter of 2016. Tullow Oil led the sector, jumping 6.1 percent.

In Asia, markets finished mostly higher on Thursday as oil prices pushed the region higher, following a new reading on China's economy.

China Caixin services purchasing managers' index (PMI) came in at 51.8 for April, continuing to show signs of expansion, but marking a moderation from 52.2 in March. Meanwhile in the U.S., markets traded mostly higher around Europe's close, buoyed by the oil price.

In other data news, Britain's April services purchasing managers' index (PMI) hit 52.3, the lowest since February 2013 and down from the previous month's reading of 53.7, which on top of the U.K.'s "lackluster" construction and manufacturing figures, suggests the economy "could be about to hit not only hit a pothole in Q2, but potentially come to a halt," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note.

UK earnings in focus; Centrica tanks 9.8%

U.K. listed companies delivered a whole raft of earnings on Thursday, keeping investors on their toes. BT reported a 6 percent rise in full-year revenue on Thursday to £18.91 billion ($27.46 billion), including the acquisition of mobile operator EE, and up 2 percent on an underlying basis, sending shares to close 2.6 percent higher.

U.K. supermarket chain Morrisons saw shares jump 2.4 percent after it said like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to May 1 rose 0.7 percent.

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Software firm Sage Group however saw a 15.6 percent year-on-year fall in pretax profit for the half year ending March 31 as it continues to turn around the business, sending shares to close over 3.5 percent down.

Shares in Insurance group RSA popped 2 percent after it saw net written premiums for the first quarter fall 1 percent but operating profits were ahead of the company's expectations.

Satellite operator Inmarsat cut its full-year revenue guidance as the "sustained recession in global maritime and energy markets continues", sending shares sinking more than 7 percent.

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British engineering firm Rolls-Royce reiterated its 2016 outlook after a tough 2015 which saw a number of profit warnings. Still shares slipped to close 2.3 percent down.

U.K. utility Centrica sank to the bottom of the STOXX 600, ending 9.8 percent lower after it announced plans to raise around £750 from a private placement of shares to fund two acquisitions and cut debt.

CNBC's Aza Wee Sile contributed to this market report.

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