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Sharp oil rebound gives boost to Europe markets; earnings dominate

European stocks finished in the black on Thursday as investors cheered on the sharp rebound in oil prices and the positive trade seen on Wall Street, while filtering through another batch of corporate earnings.

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The pan-European STOXX 600 hit near-session highs at the close, jumping 0.78 percent provisionally. Sectors finished on a positive note.

France's CAC and Germany's DAX posted solid gains by the close, up 1.17 and 0.86 percent respectively. Meanwhile, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed on a high, up 0.7 percent.

Oil prices rebound thanks to IEA, Saudi comments

Oil remains a talking point for investors, as prices fluctuated from its low to highs during the session. While glut concerns continued to dwell on investors' minds, prices were lifted in late trade after Saudi Arabia's top energy official said producers may discuss taking steps to stabilize prices, Reuters reported.

Both Brent and U.S. crude reversed earlier losses to post gains of 3.5 percent or more around Europe's market close, hovering at $45.77 and $43.34 respectively.

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Another key boost for oil on Thursday was the International Energy Agency (IEA), who released its latest report on the energy market. In the report, the organization predicted that the world would consume less oil in 2017 than previously thought, as a climate of economic insecurity continues to shake up markets.

Oil and gas stocks saw slight signs of pressure during trade, but pared to finish up 1.04 percent by the close. Inside the energy sector, SBM Offshore posted strong gains, closing up over 2.5 percent after it reiterated its 2016 guidance and delivered a decent set of results.

Basic resources also finished in the black despite metal prices pointing in different directions. Glencore popped 2.4 percent following the release of its first-half production report, in which it raised its full-year production guidance for copper but lowered it for coal and oil.

Zurich Insurance jumps 4.5%; Housing stocks take a hit

The insurance sector was also in focus after key earnings from a number of companies. Zurich Insurance posted net income of $1.6 billion for the first half, down 22 percent on-year. But shares jumped 4.5 percent after the firm said operating profit at its general insurance business rose, beating market expectations for a fall.

Swiss Life also popped some 2.8 percent, after the insurer delivered a first half net profit that beat expectations. Old Mutual, however, fell to the bottom of the insurance sector after the British firm reported a fall in pre-tax profit. Shares pared losses, to close down 3.8 percent.

Sticking in Germany, utility RWE posted first-half operating profit that missed analyst expectations, but shares jumped 4 percent.

Potash miner K+S was the STOXX 600's worst performer, with shares sinking 5.6 percent after it warned that earnings could fall sharply in 2016.

U.K. housebuilders also weighed on the STOXX 600. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reported slowing activity in the U.K. housing sector. The institution's house price balance fell to plus 5 in July from +15 in June, its lowest since April 2013.

RICS cited uncertainty around Brexit as the key reason behind the fall. Berkeley Group sat near the bottom of the STOXX 600, closing down over 3.5 percent, with other names such as Travis Perkins also closing sharply lower.

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