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Europe markets closed higher for the fourth straight session following ECB decision

  • The European Central Bank (ECB) kept its interest rates unchanged at a meeting on Thursday.
  • But it dropped its easing bias, fueling expectations that it will normalize monetary policy in the euro area.
  • Basic resources were the worst performers, not only due to a threat of higher tariffs on metals but also following data showing that China imported 16 percent less iron ore in February than in the previous month.

Markets in Europe closed provisionally higher Thursday, as investors reacted to the latest decision from the European Central Bank (ECB).

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IBEX 35
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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended provisionally 1.07 percent higher with only Basic Resources and Retail sectors moving lower. The European Central Bank (ECB) kept its interest rates unchanged at a meeting on Thursday but dropped its easing bias, fueling expectations that it will normalize monetary policy in the euro area.

As a result, the euro initially rose against the dollar on the more hawkish movement from the central bank, but later fell to trade at $1.233 at about 4:30 p.m. GMT (11:30 a.m. ET).

Miners down

Basic resources were the worst performers, not only due to a threat of higher tariffs on metals but also following data showing that China imported 16 percent less iron ore in February from the previous month. BHP Billiton fell 2.6 percent on the day.

On the other hand, food and beverage were up by more than 2 percent following some rating upgrades.

Near the top of the European benchmark was ACS, finishing up by more than 7.7 percent, following news that it is studying a joint offer with Atlantia to buy Abertis. However, shares of Boskalis Westmin sank nearly 11 percent after reporting its latest results. The firm expects a mixed outlook for its markets in 2018.

Trade war concerns remain

Shares of Hugo Boss also fell 6.8 percent on its results day. The retailer said that it is cautious on its profit for 2018 as it invests in its stores and website.

Data released Thursday morning showed German manufacturing orders falling sharply in January, due to lower foreign orders.

Meanwhile, market sentiment has also been affected by the threat of a trade war between Europe and the U.S. over aluminum and steel tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump.

The U.S. leader looked likely to implement steel and aluminium tariffs later Thursday.