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Europe stocks close higher as Jackson Hole looms and Dixons Carphone gets slammed

Key Points
  • Dixons Carphone hits the bottom of the European benchmark
  • Jackson Hole on the radar

Europeans stocks closed higher on Thursday as investors awaited comments on monetary policy from the Jackson Hole meeting.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day up 0.3 percent, with all major bourses in positive territory. Markets in the U.S., meanwhile, turned negative ahead of central bank policy announcements.

Construction and material stocks were one of the better performing sectors Thursday after CRH sold its U.S. business for $2.63 billion in cash to Beacon Roofing, Reuters reported. CRH shares closed the day up 3.8 percent.

However, household goods stocks outperformed their peers as investors bet on cyclicals. Hugo Boss ended 2.4 percent higher, while BAT was up 2.3 percent and Persimmon was 1.9 percent higher.

Provident ended the day at the top of the European benchmark, up 13 percent, after suffering losses of more than 66 percent earlier in the week on the news of its chief executive Peter Crook's departure. Sunrise, the Swiss telecom firm, was also up by more than 7 percent after reporting strong second-quarter results.

On the other end, Simcorp, a software provider, dropped more than 9 percent after its earnings report disappointed investors.

Retail stocks closed in negative territory after a difficult morning of trade. Dixons Carphone remained at the bottom of the European benchmark, down more than 23 percent, after lowering its full-year profit on tougher market conditions. The firm forecast its headline pretax profit for the current year to come between £360 million and £440 million ($460-562 million) - lower than the £495 million that Reuters analysts were expecting. Meanwhile, data from the Confederation of the British Industry showed U.K. retail sales declining in the year to August.

"Despite the warmer weather at the start of the month, retail sales have cooled as higher inflation continues to squeeze consumers' pockets. Meanwhile, deteriorating sentiment regarding the business situation has combined with falling headcount among retailers," Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said in a statement.

Jackson Hole, French business sentiment soar

Concerns over U.S. President Donald Trump's comments threatening to shut down the government eased overnight. As a result, the focus has shifted to the many addresses from central bankers at the Jackson Hole economic symposium.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who is set to address the group on Friday, gave no indication on the future steps of the central bank in a speech in Germany on Wednesday.

In terms of data, in the U.K., private consumption growth eased further than expected in the second quarter of this year. Nonetheless, the Office for National Statistics confirmed GDP at 0.3 percent for the second quarter of 2017.

In France, business sentiment hit a 10-year high in August, the country's statistic office said Thursday. Industrial morale increased to 111 points - the highest figure seen since before the financial crisis.

"Headline looks better than it is, but it signals strong growth in third-quarter manufacturing and capex," Claus Vistesen, chief euro zone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in an email.

"Overall, the composite index points to robust growth in domestic demand, but the employment component of this index has weakened in the past few months," he said.

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