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European stocks close higher; Yellen hints at rate hike

European stocks closed higher on Thursday as traders paused for breath after U.S. bond yields pulled back and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen hinted at a U.S. rate hike "relatively soon".

Trump policies in focus

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The pan-European STOXX 600 was 0.63 percent higher at the close, reversing earlier losses. All stocks ended higher and the basic resources sector outperformed its peers, climbing more than 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was mixed as investors digested comments from Janet Yellen. The Federal Reserve chair resisted temptation to discuss the U.S. election although declared she did not want to see the clock turned back on financial regulation.

Yellen said, "Many of the appropriate reforms to the financial sector are embodied in Dodd-Frank."

The Dodd-Frank Act has placed regulation on the financial system in order to safeguard it against detrimental effects.

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Meanwhile, oil prices rose on Thursday with U.S. crude even jumping up by as much as $1 a barrel which was, in large part, due to renewed optimism that OPEC would limit production at a key meeting later in the month.

A rallying U.S. dollar limited gains soaring too high though Brent Crude was $46.59 a barrel at 11.30am ET with WTI trading around $45.53 at the same time.

Rio Tinto axes top execs

In European business news, Rio Tinto fired two top executives over a probe in a $10.5 million payment linked to deal it won to develop an iron ore mine in Guinea. Shares were 1.9 percent in positive territory at the close.

Sticking with the mining space, Anglo American shares were higher despite announcing on Wednesday that it was suspending all operations at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile after protests at the site.

On the earnings front, Ahold Delhaize reported third-quarter core earnings that missed analyst expectations, sending shares 3.75 percent lower.

Zurich Insurance was in the black after it said it aims to maintain an annual dividend of 17 Swiss francs ($16.95) and cut costs further.

And Swiss private bank Julius Baer reported its assets under management rose 9 percent in the 10 months of 2016, sending shares 1.8 percent higher at the close.

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