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Europe holds onto gains at the close amid mixed earnings; Airbus soars 10.3%

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 ended trade up 0.53 percent provisionally, off session highs, while sectors closed mostly higher.
  • A recovery rally in European stocks gathered pace Thursday with several sectors trading more than 1 percent higher following sharp losses last week.
  • Airbus surged over 9 percent after the continent's biggest aerospace firm beat profit and earnings expectations. Its shares were more than 10 percent higher on the news.

European stocks finished off Thursday's trade on a relatively positive note, as investors delved through corporate earnings, while keeping an eye on market moves overseas.

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IBEX 35
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The pan-European STOXX 600 ended trade up 0.53 percent provisionally, off session highs, while sectors closed mostly higher. The recovery rally seen in Europe held Thursday, despite volatility, on the back of sharp losses last week.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.29 percent by the close, while France's CAC 40 sped ahead, up 1.11 percent. Germany's DAX, however, finished roughly flat, up 0.06 percent.

Airbus leads the STOXX 600 

Once again, earnings took center stage with better-than-expected results driving Europe's top gainers. Airbus surged to the top of the STOXX 600 after the continent's biggest aerospace firm beat profit and earnings expectations. Shares closed up 10.3 percent on the news.

Elsewhere, Dutch insurer Aegon rose 2.18 percent after the firm posted its latest figures. The company doubled quarterly net income and lifted estimates for future earnings.

London-listed ConvaTec jumped 7.36 percent, after posting profit and revenue for 2017 that beat analyst estimates.

On the other end, shares of Britain's Indivior tanked 7.4 percent, after releasing full-year results. The group, which makes drugs to treat opioid addiction, said legal costs had increased by $185 million in the final three months of 2017.

Standard Life Aberdeen saw shares tumble 7.5 percent after news emerged that it had been given notice on a £109 billion ($153 billion) asset management deal by Scottish Widows and Lloyds Banking Group's Wealth businesses. The CEOs of Standard Life Aberdeen said in a statement that they were "disappointed by this decision" and would be discussing the implications of the terminated partnership with the firms in the future.

Nestle shares slipped over 2 percent after sales for 2017 came in at 89.8 billion Swiss francs, below analyst forecasts of 90.097 billion francs. The news added pressure to the food and beverage sector, which under-performed most European industries in trade.

US inflation causes a stir

Looking at markets overseas, Asia indexes posted strong gains after Wall Street brushed aside robust inflation figures published Wednesday. U.S. consumer prices rose more than forecast in January, further raising concerns that the Federal Reserve could hike rates more than expected in 2018. Wall Street began Thursday on a positive note; however, near the end of Europe's trade, stocks came under slight pressure.

In commodities, oil prices reversed gains to trade lower, as rising inventories and U.S. output, offset gains over news that OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said major oil producers would prefer tighter markets than to end supply cuts too early. At 4:30 p.m. London time (11:30 a.m. ET), Brent crude hovered at $63.62, while U.S. WTI was trading in the red, down around $60.28.

Basic resources outperformed fellow sectors, jumping 1.59 percent, on the back of South African politics. On Thursday, African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa's new president, following Jacob Zuma's resignation Wednesday night. Stocks with a high exposure to South Africa jumped in trade, with Anglo-South African financial services group Old Mutual popping 3 percent.

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