European stocks close higher after Trump tax plans; H&M slips 5%

  • H&M dropped 5 percent to the bottom of the European benchmark after a 20 percent fall in quarterly pretax profits from a year ago

Markets in Europe managed to edge out some late gains and close higher Thursday as investors digested comments from ECB (European Central Bank) policymakers, new earnings reports and optimism over tax reforms in the U.S.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.51 percent, with most sectors finishing in positive territory, although auto stocks saw some sharp selling towards the close.

During the session, European Central Bank Chief Economist Peter Praet told a conference in Berlin that the ECB will not discuss an exit from stimulus but a policy recalibration. Thus potentially boosting the chances of the central bank prolonging its ultra-easy monetary policy.

In individual stocks, Swedish retailer H&M saw its shares drop more than 5 percent to the bottom of the European benchmark after a 20 percent fall in quarterly pretax profits from a year ago. Ryanair also dropped more than 2 percent after announcing further flight cancellations.

In other corporate news, Spotify is reportedly being valued at $16 billion by private traders, which could increase its chances of a flotation in 2018, Reuters reported.

Brexit negotiators said Thursday that there's been some progress in the last round, which ended earlier on in the day, but they were still not in a position to discuss trade arrangements.

Meanwhile, Governor Mark Carney of the Bank of England also said Thursday morning that the ability of the central bank to mitigate the impact of Brexit is limited.