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Stocks ekes out gains as oil fluctuates; Banco Popular tanks 27%

European stock indexes closed under slight pressure on Thursday, after a choppy session in which investors tried to make sense of the fluctuating oil price.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index finished up around 0.1 percent, having fluctuated from black to red throughout the session. Sectors closed mixed to lower, with autos being the biggest gainer.

London's FTSE 100 closed roughly flat, while France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX posted gains of around 0.7 percent each by the close.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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After a strong rally on Wednesday and Thursday morning, oil prices gave up most of their gains at Europe's stock market close, after rising above $50 a barrel for the first time in 2016. Prices were trading above $49.50 a barrel when Europe closed.

Nonetheless, mining stocks managed to hold onto gains by the close, boosted by an uptick in metal prices. Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Glencore and Antofagasta, all closed sharply higher. ArcelorMittal soared to the top of the STOXX 600, close to 7 percent higher, after Goldman Sachs raised its target price on the stock.

Banco Popular drags banks lower

The banking sector was one of the main under-performers on Thursday, easing back from the rally seen in the previous session. Among the biggest stock declines were Spanish and Italian banks.

Spain's Banco Popular sank to the bottom of Europe's benchmarks, off 26.5 percent, after it announced a plan to sell 2 billion new shares at 1.25 euros ($1.40) per share. UBI Banca, Unicredit and Caixabank all closed more than 3.5 percent down.

Newspaper publisher Daily Mail and General Trust saw its share price decline 10.8 percent, making it the second-worst performer on the STOXX 600, after it reported an 11 percent drop in first-half pretax profit and lower outlook for the year.

U.K. travel group Thomas Cook outperformed, finishing up 3.3 percent; while fellow U.K. firms Whitbread and Carnival both closed over 2.5 percent down, after going ex-dividend.

Marks and Spencer ended 2.2 percent lower, after Jefferies, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Investec and Exane BNP Paribas all cut their target price on the stock, following the retailer's latest earnings report.

Overseas, U.S. markets traded in a narrow range around Europe's close while in Asia, markets finished mostly mixed to higher.

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