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Europe shares close higher; hits 1-year high after Dow breaks 20,000; Actelion surges up 19%

European stocks closed higher on Thursday extending the bullish sentiment that took the Dow Jones industrial average to an all-time high.

Actelion shares surge

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.25 percent higher with bourses and sectors mixed. The index hit its highest level since December 2015 on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Technology and healthcare stocks were the best performers as investors remained confident that President Donald Trump would carry on implementing his campaign pledges, including cutting taxes and deregulation. Basic resources were down by more than 0.67 percent on Thursday.

Shares of the Swiss firm Actelion were at the top of the European benchmark, up by more than 19.4 percent. This is after Johnson and Johnson announced it is buying the company for $30 billion.

The Daily Mail ended at the other end of the benchmark, its shares slumped over 8.4 percent on Thursday after its owner cut the revenue outlook for its information division.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average continued its move above and beyond the psychologically important 20,000 threshold from the previous session. The blue-chips index was marginally higher on Thursday.

Ericsson edges higher

Meanwhile, market participants were focused on corporate earnings reports. Ericsson's shares ended 3.4 percent higher on Thursday after the Swedish communications firm cut its 2016 dividend but revenue managed to beat analyst expectations.

Diageo and Nordea shares closed higher on Thursday too after showing better-than-expected profits.

However, Unilever moved in the opposite direction. Its shares ended down by more than 4.7 percent after the firm said that "difficult" market conditions are set to continue.

Sky reported operating profit was down by 9 percent. However, the firm is reportedly in negotiations with Discovery Communications for a new carriage deal, Reuters reported. Its shares closed fractionally higher on Thursday.

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Preliminary data released Thursday showed Britain's economy grew faster than expected, despite the country's decision to leave the European Union. In the last three months of 2016, the economy expanded 0.6 percent and for the year by 2.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the British Banker's Association said Thursday that the number of mortgages approved by British banks hit a nine-month high in December but there were some signs that demand could soften in 2017.

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