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European stocks close higher; Oil prices surge on Gulf of Oman tanker attack reports

Key Points
  • U.S. President Donald Trump struck a slightly more positive tone on the U.S.-China trade war Wednesday but again threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese goods if no deal is agreed.
  • Boris Johnson confirmed his status as favorite to succeed U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, the eurosceptic former Foreign Secretary securing 114 secret ballots from Conservative MPs in the first round of the party's leadership contest. 

European stocks rebounded Thursday as Germany's 5G auction drove the telecoms index higher, while a tanker incident caused oil prices to surge.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 recovered from a 0.2% fall after the opening bell to climb 0.1% during the afternoon session. Basic Resources led gains with a 1.6% rise, while media stocks traded down around 0.7%.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

Oil prices rebounded nearly 3% Thursday amid reports of a tanker incident in the Gulf of Oman.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at around $61.65 during afternoon deals, up 2.8%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $52.76, up 3.2%.

U.S. President Donald Trump struck a slightly more positive tone on the U.S.-China trade war Wednesday, but again threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese goods if no deal is agreed, deeming relations between the world's two largest economies "testy" and doing little to assuage global trade fears.

In Asia, stocks mostly fell Thursday afternoon after a second straight day of declines on Wall Street. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 1.73% lower amid violent clashes between protesters and riot police over a controversial extradition bill.

Back in Europe, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told CNBC's Silvia Amaro on Thursday that there would be no renegotiation of the U.K.'s departure deal with the European Union. The reminder came as Conservative party candidates vying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, each with their own lofty Brexit plan, faced a first vote among the party's MPs.

Eurosceptic former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who launched his campaign with a promise to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, secured the most secret ballots with 114, while his successor Jeremy Hunt came a distant second with 43 votes.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) stuck to its ultra-loose monetary policy on Thursday and blamed rising trade tensions between the United States and China for a spike in the safe-haven Swiss franc.

In corporate news, Germany raised 6.55 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in its auction of spectrum for 5G mobile services, the Federal Network Regulator (BNetzA) said after a contest lasting nearly three months that will see a fourth operator enter the market.

That fourth operator was German telecommunications provider 1&1 Drillisch, which saw its share price climb 5% in afternoon trade as investors reacted to the news. Shares of United Internet, 1&1 Drillisch's parent company, also rose by 3.6%.

British plumbing company Ferguson topped the Stoxx 600 in afternoon deals, jumping 6.1% after activist fund Trian Fund Management announced it had built a 6% stake.

At the other end of Europe's blue chip index, British copper producer Aurubis was down 7.5% after its CEO was dismissed early amid rising project costs.