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Europe ends under pressure as pound rally weighs on FTSE; OPEC, Wall Street eyed

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.33 percent provisionally by the close, with most sectors closing in negative territory
  • OPEC ministers and allied producers are meeting in Vienna on Thursday to decide on oil output policy

European equities closed lower Thursday, as market sentiment in the region failed to be lifted by the positive trade seen in the U.S. and in oil.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.33 percent provisionally by the close, with most sectors closing in negative territory.

Looking to bourses, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 tumbled 0.9 percent as sterling posted strong gains against the U.S. dollar. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX, meanwhile, closed down 0.47 and 0.29 percent respectively.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

While Europe closed on a relatively negative note, Wall Street showed a different picture. The Dow broke above 24,000 for the first time Thursday, with it rising over 180 points by Europe's close.

Switching back to Europe, telecoms outperformed fellow industries, with the majority of its stocks closing in the black.

Meanwhile, construction & material and basic resources were the worst performers of the day. Mining stocks, in particular, came under pressure, as nickel prices tumbled some 2.5 percent.

In individual stock news, Swiss bank Credit Suisse rose 2 percent, after it announced plans to boost shareholder returns. Meanwhile, in a CNBC interview, CEO Tidjane Thiam said that policymakers have been handling the current environment "very well."

Mediclinic led the STOXX 600 by the close, finishing up 4.7 percent, after Jefferies upgraded its rating on the stock from "underperform" to "buy". Euronext followed, soaring 4.2 percent after it announced it would acquire 100 percent of the Irish Stock Exchange's shares, for 137 million euros ($162 million).

Wealth management business doing well: Credit Suisse CEO

On the opposite end of Europe's main benchmark, the Daily Mail and General Trust tanked 23.86 percent after reporting a pre-tax loss for the financial year ending in September. Citing impairment charges and challenging market conditions, the owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers slumped to near 5-year lows.

Dialog Semiconductor, tumbled almost 18 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that Apple was designing its own main power management chips, to use in its iPhones, from as early as 2018. According to Reuters, the German firm says the report doesn't change any business ties it has.

Norsk Hydro slipped 4.5 percent after a strategy update, which showed that while it expects earnings to improve, it foresees an increase in capital expenditure over the coming years, Reuters reported.

All eyes on OPEC

Aside from the Dow rising above 24,000 on Thursday, investors on Wall Street will be paying close attention to tax. With the Senate Budget Committee having approved the Senate's tax plan earlier this week, this brings the upper chamber closer to a floor vote that is slated to occur Thursday. If the upper chamber's bill passes, the House and Senate would have to work on a new bill they can send to President Donald Trump.

Back in Europe, OPEC ministers and allied producers are meeting in Vienna, Austria on Thursday to decide on oil output policy. On Thursday, OPEC agreed to extend oil output cuts until the end of next year. However, Russia and the 14-member cartel were still working out key technical details of an agreement, sources told Dow Jones.

At Europe's close, Brent crude traded higher at $63.65, while U.S. crude rose to $57.36. The oil sector closed relatively flat, yet certain stocks posted solid gains in trade, including Tullow Oil.

Sterling hit a two-month peak on Thursday, as hopes of a deal next month between the U.K. and European Union escalated. The U.K.'s FTSE was also under pressure, as leading London-listed stocks fell to the bottom of Europe's benchmarks.