European markets closed higher on Thursday as investors monitored developments in the U.S.-China trade war and digested comments from central bank officials.
Stocks trimmed gains slightly during the afternoon session, after European Central Bank (ECB) policymaker Klass Knot said he saw no reason for quantitative easing to be resumed in the region, according to Bloomberg. Soft inflation data had earlier reinforced expectations that the ECB will inject stimulus into the economy next month, providing an additional boost to stocks.
Although Knot's comments briefly dented sentiment, the pan-European Stoxx 600 pared losses to end the session more than 1% higher, with all sectors and major bourses in positive territory.
Stocks surged during early trade on Thursday after the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said it firmly rejected an escalation of the trade war with the U.S., and vowed to resolve the dispute with a "calm attitude."
Tensions between the world's two largest economies escalated last week with each country announcing increases to tariffs on one another's goods, but China's Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday that Beijing was "willing to negotiate and collaborate," adding that Chinese and U.S. trade delegations have maintained "effective" communication.
Stocks on Wall Street also traded in positive territory on Thursday as investor sentiment was lifted by the comments from China.
Back in Europe, data from six German states indicated on Thursday that overall German inflation likely slowed in August from the prior month, sliding further below the ECB's target. The ECB has indicated that stimulus could be forthcoming if inflation continues to languish well below its target of almost 2%, with markets expecting policy easing at the central bank's meeting on September 12.
Investors are monitoring political developments after news Wednesday that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will suspend Britain's parliament for more than a month before the country's departure from the European Union. This would potentially scupper efforts from opposition parties to block a chaotic no-deal exit if Johnson is unable to secure a new deal with the bloc before October 31.
Italian politics is also in focus as President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday handed a fresh mandate to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to form a government, comprising a coalition between the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the opposition Democratic Party (PD). Conte had resigned following a decision by the Lega party to pull out of its previous coalition with M5S.
British software firm Micro Focus slightly pared early losses which saw shares hit their lowest level since April 2018 after the company cut its full-year guidance. The company's stock was trading around 32% lower during the afternoon session.
At the other end of the Stoxx 600, French industrial giant Bouygues gained 6.75% after the firm reported a jump in profits and better-than-expected first-half results.
Luxembourg-based Eurofins Scientific jumped more than 5% after the biopharma testing firm reported better-than-expected first-half results and suffered only a mild loss from a recent cyberattack.