Europe finishes on a high on the back of strong earnings; commodities rebound

A solid recovery in commodities helped lift European stocks by the close on Thursday, as investors pored over the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's July meeting on top of digesting another batch of earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 finished up 0.72 percent provisionally, with all sectors ending in the black.

All major bourses closed higher, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and France's CAC posting gains by the close, up 0.14 and 0.44 percent respectively. Germany's DAX pushed ahead gains however, ending up 0.62 percent.

Vestas hits 8-year high

Key earnings were one of the main drivers for markets on Thursday. One of the big market movers was Vestas Wind, which shot to the top of the STOXX 600 after its second-quarter earnings beat market expectations and the renewable energy firm upgraded its 2016 guidance. Vestas Wind shares hit an eight-year high during trade, closing up 9.87 percent up.

Another strong performer was travel group Thomas Cook, which jumped 7.5 percent after it signed a supply deal with Webjet.

Back to earnings, Swiss food giant Nestle said first-half organic sales grew 3.5 percent, missing analyst expectations amid continued challenges in China. Shares closed 1.5 percent up.

Meanwhile Raiffeisen Bank International sank 2.1 percent after it said its second-quarter net profit came in at 96 million euros ($108.6 million), missing market expectations. Banks in general showed signs of weakness, with BMPS and Banco Popular finishing near the bottom of Europe's benchmarks.

Shares of William Hill sank after 888 Holdings and the Rank Group announced prior to the close that they were withdrawing their proposal of a possible combination of the three companies. The U.K. bookmaker pared some losses, closing 1.5 percent down.

Brent above $50

Commodities were on a winning streak on Thursday as basic resources outperformed its fellow sectors, with a weaker dollar and coal prices helping lift the sector; Reuters reported. London-listed stocks Glencore, Antofagasta and BHP Billiton all posted sharp gains during trade.

On the oil front, prices recovered in later trade as the world's top oil producers get ready to talk about a potential freeze in production levels soon, according to Reuters.

Both Brent and WTI crude were higher in trade, standing around $50.65 and $48.03 respectively at Europe's close.

Is a Fed rate hike on the cards in 2016?

Across the Atlantic, U.S. equities traded slightly higher around Europe's close on Thursday as investors digested the minutes from the Fed's July meeting, along with fresh data.

Some voting Federal Reserve policymakers expect that a further U.S. interest rate increase will be required soon although there is general agreement that more data are needed before such a move, according to the minutes from the Fed's July policy meeting. The continued debate over the correct time to raise rates suggests a hike could be delayed, according to analysts.

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On the data front, the U.K.'s retail sales for July were up 1.4 percent compared with June, beating a Reuters poll of 0.2 percent. The data pushed the pound higher, last standing up 0.85 percent against the dollar at $1.3147.

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