European markets end mixed amid thin trading volumes overseas; Centrica slumps 15.5%

Key Points
  • France's CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent by the close, while Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX dipped into the red, off 0.02 and 0.05 percent respectively
  • Centrica and Thyssenkrupp are among the firms reporting
  • Euro zone flash manufacturing PMIs surprise, while markets in the U.S. were closed for Thanksgiving

European equities finished Thursday on a relatively flat note, as investors digested the latest in individual stock news, amid weak trading volumes internationally.

The pan-European STOXX 600 finished trade 0.02 percent up provisionally, closing off its session lows. Sectors were pointing in different directions by the close; however, market moves were relatively muted in afternoon deals, after Asia closed for the day.

Looking to bourses, France's CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent by the close, while Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX dipped into the red, off 0.02 and 0.05 percent respectively.

Utilities closed down 0.40 percent, making it the worst performing sector Thursday, as earnings news weighed. Centrica tanked 15.49 percent by the market close, after announcing that it lost 823,000 customers in four months.

Shares of EDF, however, popped 5.6 percent — making it Europe's best performer — after reports emerged that France's finance ministry was looking at various restructuring options for the utility firm. One possible option is the spinning off of EDF's nuclear power-generation activities, Reuters reported citing sources.

Meanwhile, basic resources outperformed fellow sectors, closing up 0.31 percent, as metal prices rose in later trade. The sector had come under pressure in morning trade, as performance in Asia weighed on sentiment.

On Thursday, Chinese markets tumbled on liquidity concerns, with the Shanghai composite closing down more than 2 percent. U.S. markets meanwhile were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, and Japan's Nikkei was also closed Thursday, leading to lower trading volumes across the world.

How close is China to a Minsky Moment?
How close is China to a Minsky Moment?

Back in Europe, Thyssenkrupp posted record elevator orders, contributing to its highest order intake in five years. The firm also said Thursday that it still aims to sign a contract with Tata Steel in early 2018. Its stock jumped some 4 percent.

Altice rose 3.85 percent by the close, making it one of Europe's top performer, following news of a possible sale of its network in the Dominican Republic.

Sticking with telecommunications, Telecom Italia rose 4.5 percent, as tensions with the Italian government showed signs of easing. This comes after the group said Wednesday that it intends to comply with the government's requests when it comes to protecting the former state telephone monopoly as a strategic asset, Reuters reported.

U.K. housebuilders bounced back Thursday following a sell-off in the previous day due to announcements from the British government on supporting house ownership. Most analysts believe the sell-off was an overreaction. Barratt Developments, Taylor Wimpey and Berkeley Group all climbed, to finish up more than 1.5 percent each.

Aside from Centrica, Vestas Wind fell to the bottom, off 3.3 percent, after HSBC cut its price target on the stock. Babcock International fell over 3 percent too, after Jefferies and RBC slashed their price target on the U.K. firm.

Looking at data, euro zone flash composite PMIs came in higher than expectations hitting a 79-month high in November. Economists were expecting an unchanged reading from October.