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European close slightly higher; Steinhoff tanks 37% to extend losses

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 swung both higher and lower in Thursday's trading, closing up 0.02 percent
  • Shares of Ladbrokes Coral closed more than 29 percent higher after bookmaker GVC Holdings offered to buy the firm for £3.9 billion ($5.2 billion)
  • President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — a move met with criticism from across the world

European markets closed up by only a tiny margin Thursday afternoon as investors reacted to merger and acquisition news and looked ahead to fresh economic data.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 swung both higher and lower in Thursday's trading, closing up 0.02 percent and with major bourses and sectors pointing in different directions.

Telecoms rallied 1.28 percent with France's Orange leading the charge, closing up 2.32 percent. The company announced Thursday that investments would peak in 2018 at 7.4 billion euros ($8.7 billion) as it spends on networks to grow its customer base.

Banks were 0.85 percent higher.

Europe's travel and leisure stocks did well earlier in the day, eking out some gains in afternoon trade. They closed up 0.53 percent. Shares of Ladbrokes Coral topped the Stoxx 600, up just over 29 percent after bookmaker GVC Holdings offered to buy the firm for £3.9 billion. The move could create an online betting giant from both London-listed brands.

Basic resources stocks were down on softer copper prices, and finished the day's trading 0.24 percent lower.

Steinhoff tumbled to the bottom of the benchmark Thursday. The South African retailer extended dramatic losses from the previous session, after it revealed accounting irregularities and its chief executive resigned. Its shares closed over 46 percent lower Thursday.

In the U.S. the tech-heavy Nasdaq continued to trade higher, led by chip-maker Broadcom's positive earnings report.

Tax reform high on the agenda

Brexit will continue to linger at the back of investors' minds. A spokesperson for Theresa May, stated that the British prime minister would discuss the desired "end state" when it comes to Brexit with her leading team of ministers before the year is out, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the British parliament's Upper House have said that the U.K. should avoid a worst-case scenario of having a "no deal" outcome when it comes to Brexit.

U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel Wednesday triggered a backlash from Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East. In addition, the United Nations and the European Union both voiced concern about the decision and the repercussions it would have on the peace-making process between Israel and Palestine.

Tax reform remained high on the agenda for investors worldwide. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted to go to a conference committee with the House, in order to negotiate a plan when it comes to overhauling the current tax system. The Senate voted 51-47 in favor of forming a conference committee, as Republicans hope a tax proposal can be agreed upon by the Christmas holiday.